The conventions of linear theatre are burst from their shackles in Olwen Fouéré’s one-woman show: a guttural yet rhythmic adaptation of the voice of the river in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. For those familiar with Joyce’s idioglossia, Fouéré’s commanding, bulletproof performance will resurrect the impenetrability of the original text: full of Irish portmanteaus and grunted neologisms.
Onto a stage brushed with seasalt steps Fouéré, traversed by two sets of floor lights. The rest of this experience slides over you like a velvet sheet, with the power to rock you to sleep or assault your eardrums. Fouéré’s hypnotising recital, which configures the whistling, hulking sounds generated by Joyce is like a great sacrament, one that, depending on your love of performance art, will either astound or alienate. The pace and accuracy with which Fouéré digests and delivers Joyce’s words is, at times, quite miraculous, but this experience is one that will divide audiences as to its real theatricality. So much so, at lights out, it has neither provoked nor truly amazed.