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Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth By Day

This hour-long show by Mabou Mines about James Joyce's daughter proves to be an unsatisfying experience. logo
Ruth Maleczech and Paul Kandel in
Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth By Day
(© Julie Archer)
Mabou Mines' Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth By Day, suffers from the blurred vision of writer/director Sharon Fogerty who's unable to articulate the pain and bewilderment of the title character (Ruth Maleczech), who's been institutionalized for almost 50 years as the play opens.

That woman is none other than the daughter of James Joyce, who struggles for her father's attention as she rebels against her mother in an almost classic Freudian case. Joyce (Paul Kandel) appears mostly as a literal shadow in Lucia's mind, conjured up in her room at the mental institution while she whiles away her time high on pharmaceuticals.

The hour-long show opens with an impressive series of disjointed visual projections that mirror the fractures in Lucia's mind, but then the talking begins: essentially a monologue of her ramblings, making it very hard to string together a story we can care about.

Confined to a chair that floats about on stage using a see-saw like contraption, Lucia regales us with stories of her wild youth, being courted by Samuel Beckett, Ezra Pound and other literary luminaries, but always feeling that they were only with her to get close to her father. This created resentment that ended up being violently directed toward her mother, and eventually caused her brother to institutionalize her. The stays were short at first, but quickly lengthened until she was committed for good in her thirties.

It's too bad we don't get to see Lucia in her younger years except through the eulogy we hear on stage (half of the show takes place in her afterlife). Throughout the years, her radiant personality was gradually dimmed by her confinement and we only meet up with her when that flame is about to flicker out.

In the end, the show becomes a rather unsatisfying experience filled with incoherent murmurs that can't capture the breadth of this character. Some stories thrive on words yet others are defeated by them, and unfortunately, the more Lucia talks, the less we know about her.

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