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Review: What if you had made a different decision, way back when?

Time-travelling love story poignant and thoughtful; a worthwhile trip to theatre, running until May 15
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The Cast of Bloomsday. Photo: Marc J. Chalifoux Photography

There's a beautifully written play on now at the Varscona Theatre, courtesy of Edmonton's Shadow Theatre. Bloomsday tells the story of Robert, who returns to Dublin to reunite with Cait, the woman who captured his heart during a James Joyce literary tour 35 years ago. Moving back through time, the older couple retraces their steps to discover their younger selves. And through youthful Robbie and Caithleen, the pair relive the unlikely, inevitable events that brought them--only briefly--together.

What if he had made a different choice, that day at the train station? wonders Robert. What if he had whisked the impulsive Caithleen home with him to America--let her drive in a car and explore the world, as she wishes she could? Would life have turned out completely differently?

The time-travelling love story is propelled by Robert, played with fervor by John Sproule, who tried to convince his younger self, and the young version of his love, Caithleen, to convince the bone-headed Robbie to do things differently. Coralie Cairns is the wise Cait, who sees the past and knows why she wants to see Robert again on this Bloomsday--a day the Irish dress up in period garb and celebrate James Joyce's Ulysses. Cairns' Cait is a calm, thoughtful contrast to (Sproule) Robert's frenzied determination to change the course of history--or at least understand it. The veteran pair of local actors work well together.

Alexandra Dawkins is wonderful as young Caithleen, not just for her spot-on Irish accent, but for portraying the heartache and confusion of realizing her future, through contact with her older self and older Robert. You can feel her angst. As young Robbie, Chris Pereira does a fine turn as young Robbie--unknowing, unsure...a not uncommon 20-year-old, who doesn't yet understand the hold this encounter will have on his entire life to come.

Bloomsday, by Steven Dietz is the final show of Shadow Theatre's season. Directed by Shadow artistic director John Hudson, the play weaves the past and present and prods the audience with an ever-present lament--"If only I had...".  It may make you want to read Ulysses too, (or not) and further ponder those big life questions yourself.

Bloomsday runs until May 15 at the Varscona Theatre, 10329 83 Ave. Tickets are at shadowtheatre.org