bloominauschwitz is an intriguing one man play based on Joyce’s Ulysses. The story follows the tale’s pivotal character Leopold Bloom. We see him travel through time exploring his roots as a Jewish Irishman and the contradictions he finds himself in as a result of this background. At the start he is proud of his Irish heritage and longs to return to Dublin with his piece of pork liver.
As the play unfolds he discovers his father was a Jew and, wanting to find himself part of the wider Jewish community, he undergoes self-questioning and discoveries to understand his personal place in the Jewish religion. As Bloom travels through time, accompanied by the character ‘Bloom past’, he is suddenly in a German concentration camp where he learns of the suffering of his people. This is a turning point for Bloom but one that he must undergo if he is to return to the present fully educated on the history of the religion he wishes to be a part of.
Patrick Morris plays Bloom plus all the characters Bloom comes into conversation with. His performance is outstanding and the physical strength needed to play such an exhausting array of characters in numerous situations is mighty. Every part of Morris’s performance is overwhelmingly powerful. This is an actor with great skill as he focuses on each extreme scenario after another. Full of energy and transfixed into his character, I felt as though I was watching a real life man going mad in his bedroom. Yet through that privacy, just as you begin to feel safe in your audience chair the fourth wall is shattered as Morris addresses the audience or lighting technician, as though to deliberately remind us that we are watching a show. The effect was successful and not out of place in this unusual style of play.
This will not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to an evening’s entertainment. There is crude toilet humour throughout and the style of play is unusual to say the least. To top it off the subject matter delves deep into aspects of the Jewish faith that are rarely discussed and may go over the heads of many audience members. This seems to be a play for a very select target audience, but it is so well written and performed that if you are up for a challenge and a pensive evening it could be just up your street. Theatrically on point and cleverly written, this play has the potential to be a huge hit.
bloominauschwitz is playing the Soho until 29 August. For more information and tickets, see the Soho Theatre website. Photo by Soho Theatre.