Sunday, August 19, 2018

Surreal “Bloomsday” gets impressive production at none-too-fragile

What does Steven Dietz, the author of “Bloomsday,” which is now on stage at none-too-fragile, have in common with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee?  Yes, they are all American playwrights, but, believe it or not, they are all tied for number eight on the list of the Top Ten Most Produced Playwrights in America. 

Dietz, in contrast to the other two, who are each generally considered as one of the greatest modern American writers (the others are Arthur Miller, Willian Inge and Eugene O’Neil), has had the majority of his plays produced in regional theatres and has little general population name recognition.  None of his works has been staged on Broadway, but his scripts appear regularly in community theatre and non-professional venues.

What makes his 34 political and comedic plays so popular?  Dietz has the ability to examine personal betrayal and deception in a perceptive way that grabs and holds an audience’s attention.  He is also noted as a “trickster plotter.”  This writing device is at the very center of “Bloomsday.”

The story, which takes place in Dublin, is a tale of the past and now.  Literally, it takes place in the past and the present, at the same time, basically a kind-of surreal time-travel experience.

We first meet Caithleen, a young twenty-something Irish lass while she is leading a group tour of James Joyce’s Dublin, pointing out the major sites described in “Ulysses,” the classic which Robert, one of the tour’s participants, refers to as “an under-read and overpraised piece of drivel.” 

In the play, Robert warns Caithleen not to pay much heed to Robbie, a young American who will soon be on her tour.  He relates what is going to happen between the duo. At first this is confusing, until we realize that the older Robert is the younger Robbie and the youthful Caithleen is Cait, who Robert also talks about.

The tale, with humor and drama, “embodies how one can, with age, make peace with lost opportunity — yet still feel pangs of regret.”

The title, “Bloomsday,” refers to June 16, on which the life of Irish writer, James Joyce, is universally celebrated.  It was selected as it is the time of the writer’s first outing with Nora Barnacle, his wife-to be, and is named after the novel’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom.”

“Bloomsday,” is the kind of script that none-too-fragile does so well.  The play, which has a challenging format, requires fine acting and directing to avoid being a confusing, abstract evening of theatre.

As is usually the case, n-t-f’s performance is masterful.  Under Katia Schwarz’s well thought-out direction, and the well-textured performances of Derdriu Ring (Cait), Tom Woodward (Robert), Brooke Turner (Caithleen) and Nicholas Chokan (Robbie) are compelling.

Capsule judgment: “Bloomsday” is a provocative script which gets a fine production.  It continues none-too-fragile’s reputation of being one of the best local theaters.  This is a staging well worth seeing!

For tickets for “Bloomsday,” which runs through September 1, 2018, call 330-671-4563 or go to

Up next: Matt Pelfrey’s “Freakstorm” 
(November 16-December 1, 2018)
“On a rainy night in Los Angeles, a young couple get an abrupt visit from two old friends.  They're not stopping by for pleasure, but to warn them that someone, or something, from their past that is coming for them all...”