Ireland and James Joyce are synonymous, so much so that more than a century after the publication of Dubliners, his chronicle of the lives of the city’s residents continue to resonate with readers… and now with theatre audiences too. Bewley’s Cafe Theatre specializes in that most genteel of stage productions, the lunchtime play, so it might seem at first an odd choice of venue for a radical reworking of Dubliners, but Dubliners Women promises to live up to what Joyce himself imagined his stories would do: illustrate the inner lives of the people of his hometown in a way that the reader (or audience) would recognize. Not just how the city’s various institutions worked, but also how they conspired to paralyze its citizens… and perhaps how one hundred years later they still do.
Director Sarah Baxter’s production takes three of the collection’s stories that feature female protagonists, “Eveline,” “Clay,” and “The Boarding House,” to shine a light on how Joyce portrayed the lives of women and how those narratives might resonate in twenty-first century Ireland. Dubliners Women runs June 6 to 17, with an extra performance on Bloomsday. Later that month the final story in Dubliners is getting a theatrical treatment of a different order in Kells, when a public reading of the magnificent “The Dead” will take place in … wait for it, a funeral parlor. The staged reading is part of Lit Quake’s contribution to this the Hinterland Festival of Literature and the Arts. Some might find the locale a little too on the nose. Joyce would no doubt approve of the setting for his story about an elegant dinner party. After all, his most famous character, Leopold Bloom speculated that a corpse was nothing more than “meat gone bad.”