Walking off the chewed fat

October 23, 2013


After helping Dubliners pile on the pounds with her gooey dinner theatre treats, La Locandiera and The Picture of Dorian Gray, director Alice Coughlan is giving them a full physical and mental work out with her latest production- a self-guided audio-walk, that guides you through the streets and buildings that Joyce set his classic short story collection in. The key event at this month’s One City One Book Festival, audiences can choose between the Full Day’s Epic, which takes you across the city, from Chapelizod to Ringsend or A Half Day’s Adventure which looks at the seven tales which occur inside the city centre.

Narrated by Barry McGovern, who in turn is supported by a cast of almost exclusively Jackeen performers, it’s like a radio play that makes you stand in the set. “It allows you to go to the places mentioned in the text” says Coughlan, “and feel like you are time travelling back to Edwardian Dublin for a day as Joyce saw it.”

Editing of the audio has proven to be a nightmare and when we spoke, Coughlan hadn’t slept in three days. “We’ve done everything we can to evoke the era, from the soundscape to the soundtrack, with optional audio to inform you of the changes that have occurred between now and then, as well as the circumstance that informed Joyce’s writing.” She has also walked all over the city adjusting the sound levels accordingly so that you never have to strain or be pained by the recording.

Her initial relationship with Dubliners was like a regrettable fling, a rite of passage crammed in the night before a college exam. It’s only natural then, that McGovern, a friend and neighbor, be involved, seeing as her regular walks with the Joycean actor was the inspiration for the project. “We were walking in the park a couple of years ago and he started telling me the story of A Painful Case and how it was set exactly along where we were walking. I was really interested and excited and my relationship with Joyce, to date a college romance, was reignited.

“I went home and got out my copy and it as an emotional experience to read it again. He made me totally fall in love with the book, as I simply hadn’t gotten it as a 19 year old. That’s what I hope this experience might do for others.”

First Published in the Sunday Independent, 8th of April 2012

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