It's perplexing that a play whose subject is the schizophrenia of James Joyce's daughter should scarcely mention any of the numerous other people around Joyce who suffered psychological disturbances; more so that Rosalind Scanlon should make such a Leitmotiv of eyes and vision (Lucia is obsessed with her strabismus, and hears the voice of her patron saint, also the patron of eyesight) but should allude only perfunctorily to her father's chronic ocular problems. Yes, it's a play about Lucia, but we're only interested in her because of Jim.
Once the script gets into its stride – past the whoops-exposition hurdles that establish her in the nursing home where she spent her last 30 years, obsessively recalling her past in Paris – the dual-time conceit of the play allows Old Lucia to comment distraughtly upon Young Lucia's disintegration while Santa Lucia goads each. Director Astrid Hilne adroitly choreographs the overlapping action (an apt metaphor – Lucia wanted to be a dancer), and Debra Beaumont is a plausibly disoriented Young Lucia. But the figures around her – long-suffering mother, father deluding himself that the crisis will pass, the awkward young Samuel Beckett with whom she was infatuated – are sketchily and reductively drawn. An intriguing (though too individualised) portrait of schizophrenia, but even in drama Lucia can't escape the shadow of her father.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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