Love's Bitter Mystery: The Year that Made James Joyce

Bloomsday in Melbourne, a James Joyce festival with a formidable global reputation, is back for our 28th season with a Covid-safe, original and new immersive theatrical event, Love’s Bitter Mystery at Villa Alba, by Steve Carey and directed by Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s precociously talented Jennifer Sarah Dean. The subtitle of the piece is The Year that Made James Joyce, and that year is 1903-4. It’s a bold biographical play that is augmented by the fiction, and it’s being staged in the spectacular main rooms of an atmospheric boom era mansion rarely seen by Melburnians. We expect the show will be popular with Joyce virgins as well as the initiates. For more specific information on the show and the other Bloomsday events, the seminar and the dinner, see the Bloomsday in Melbourne website ( for more details about session times.


Event details

Venue: Villa Alba
Bookings: Frances Devlin-Glass

The production focuses on a critical year in the young author’s life and how he used episodes in his own life in his novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses.
Jennifer Sarah Dean of the Melbourne Shakespeare Company, Director of 'Love's Bitter Mystery', comments: ‘I’m so excited by the setting,’ says Dean. ‘You really feel you’re right there in the room with the young Joyce and his fictional alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, as he experiences some of the most dramatic, formative, moving and intimate events of his young life. We can’t wait to bring it to you!’
The play centres on a crucial period in the young author’s life, 1902-1904, during which Joyce exiles himself from Ireland, travels to Paris, but is called home to spend time with his sick mother, and eventually, on the streets of Dublin and against the odds, meets Nora, the love of his life.