“Bloominauschwitz” a complex look at Leopold Bloom‘s identity as a Jew

By Lucy Komisar

Every once in a while, you see an actor who could read the phone directory and make it a brilliant play. That is Patrick Morris, who portrays Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, in “Bloominauschwitz,” as he travels through history to investigate his identity as a Jew. And issues of identity.

Patrick Morris.

In Joyce‘s text, Bloom has visitations from the future and the past as he seeks to answer the question, “Who am I and where do I belong?” He must find that out in one day, in June 1904.

Playwright Richard Ferdman has another idea. In the voice of Bloom, he addresses Joyce, “What did you do when you made me a Jew?” The years will go from 1904 to 1944.

Morris, the compleat actor in derby and black suit, turns our attention to the assimilation of an immigrant born in Ireland. “I heard his father came from Hungary, changed his name.” There are torrents of words and then Klezmer music. He is surrounded by a tribe where he at last belongs.

Fredman takes him from the early 1900s to confront the Nazis and then the Arabs. He turns Bloom‘s identity as Hungarian/Irish into a way of looking at Israeli/Arab. Bloom‘s daughter is in Israel where Jews are fighting Arabs.

It is an original and important take on the ideas of the masterful novel. And I must repeat that Patrick Morris is the best actor I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe, in any production. Director Rachel Aspinwall helps make the one-person play a complex performance.

Bloominauschwitz.” Written by Richard Fredman; directed by Rachel Aspinwall. Menagerie Theatre Company, St John‘s, Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Aug 3 to 25, 2018.

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