LUCIA MAD, TinFish Theatre. Poor Lucia Joyce. Creative but not brilliant, attractive but way too needy, she never found her place in life or in the arts–her attempts in the dance world came to naught. Her hopeless love for the notoriously anhedonic Samuel Beckett is the stuff of legend (apparently he merely tolerated her attentions to gain access to her father). So is her gradual descent into madness, occurring when her father was composing his own work of literary schizophrenia, Finnegans Wake.

Poor Don Nigro. This New York-based playwright was clearly overwhelmed by his rich subjects –Joyce, Beckett, Lucia, and Joyce’s wife, Nora–yet managed to produce a fairly coherent, remarkably unpretentious play (something Lookingglass member Joy Gregory was not able to accomplish in her 1996 Dreaming Lucia). Then his work fell into the hands of a tin-eared company like TinFish. Everyone in Nigro’s play is Irish (except for one mad Frenchman, who thinks he’s Napoleon), so you’d think the company would at least try to reproduce the beautiful Irish accent, right? You’d also think TinFish would try to cast actors who can play such heavyweights as Beckett and Joyce. Yet Vance Smith’s Beckett is farcically morose, and Jerry Rathgeb’s Joyce is just plain goofy, more Dagwood Bumstead than Stephen Dedalus. Paula Stevens makes a very effective Lucia–her mad scenes are remarkable for their restraint and sensitivity–but she can’t carry the show alone, poor girl.

–Jack Helbig