It is hard to describe Stephen Dietz's play Bloomsday, currently playing at Lyric Arts. It is a play that defies definition in part because it is about so many things at the same time. It is about falling in love but also being urged away from it. It is about looking back on your past and wanting to change it but also being trapped in your own fate. It is a play about longing.
Part of what makes this play so unique is its premise. Bloomsday is a play with two star crossed lovers, but four actors/characters. The 20 year old star crossed lovers Caithleen and Robbie are joined in the story by their older counterparts, Cait and Robert, now 55. But despite the age differences it is hard to tell if the play takes place now or 35 years ago. Because they all interact, each combination of the 4 characters have scenes with each other. The older characters knowing what is to come, and the younger characters both so eager and entranced by each other, seeing in each other a way to break away from their hum drum lives.
But the fact is when this play takes place, whether it is now, 35 years ago, or both at the same time, it doesn't matter. The direction by Elena Gianetti helps to highlight that although time is a very important aspect of the play, the time setting isn't what is important. What is important is the relationships, how one day with a person can change the trajectory of ones life.
On the other hand the physical setting of the play, Dublin, is very important. The city is brought to life beautifully by the scenic design by Brian J Proball. Dublin is in some ways a fifth character. Our two star crossed lovers meet while Caithleen is leading a tour through Dublin inspired by James Joyce's Ulysses. And without the setting the sense of longing and runs through the entire play would not be complete.
A story like this would not be complete without great performances. Each member of the ensemble plays an important role to make the whole work sing. The roles of Caithleen and Cait were portrayed by Gillian Constable and Lolly Foy respectively. It was very easy to see them as two parts of the same person, and their performances were a highlight of the show for me. The roles of Robbie and Robert were portrayed by Jeffery Goodson and Brandon Homan respectively. The role of Robbie/Robert is tricky, they are Americans, not on their home turf and at first understandably confused by the time shifting. But Goodson and Homan pull it off and combined with Constable and Foy the four put together a beautiful story.
Bloomsday runs through January 26th at Lyric Arts in Anoka. If you are put off by the distance, don't be. The play is well worth the drive! Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo by Twin Cities Headshots