Bloomsday in Melbourne is back for their 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 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.

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.

The play is part of Bloomsday in Melbourne’s 28th annual celebration of Bloomsday, 16 June 1904, the date on which the action of Joyce’s notorious novel Ulysses is set. There is also a seminar and an annual dinner on 16 June.

The venue, Villa Alba, is a partly restored Victorian mansion in Kew built in 1882, the year James Joyce was born.

Love’s Bitter Mystery: The Year that Made James Joyce is at Villa Alba in Kew from Tuesday 15th to Sunday 27th June. More at It is not suitable for those under 18.