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WHAT: "Nightmaze" by Vincent O'Neill

WHEN: Premieres at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and continues through April 1

WHERE: Irish Classical Theatre Company, 625 Main St.

ADMISSION: $10 to $27

INFO: 853-4282

In a literary act that can only be called heroic, Vincent O'Neill, artistic director of Irish Classical Theatre, has adapted for the stage the 20th century's most difficult and enigmatic novel, James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake." Called "Nightmaze" - a title with Joycean overtones - the play may be, according to O'Neill, a key to unlocking the vast treasures of this great novel.

"Joyce himself claimed that the meaning and content of his work would only come clear to the reader if one listened to the music of the text," O'Neill writes in the program notes to "Nightmaze." O'Neill has already demonstrated the great appeal of Joyce's language in a dramatic setting in his vastly entertaining one-man show, "Joycity" of a few years back. In this new work, which will have its world premiere opening night, O'Neill will give the novel a specific locale and time frame and assign all of that musical dialogue to particular characters - things that remain scrupulously ambiguous in Joyce's book. O'Neill believes that experiencing Joyce's work in this way will "lift the veil of confusion" that surrounds the novel and dramatize the lyricism and humor of the book.

The play, based on the first eight chapters of the novel, will be directed by O'Neill and Fortunato Pezzimenti, who just came off a directorial triumph in Garcia Lorca's "Blood Wedding" for Irish Classical. Josephine Hogan will be Anna Livia Plurabelle and Gerry Finnegan will be Humphrey Chimden Earwiker. Others in the cast are John Warren, Shaun Sheley and Dawn Woollacott.

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