Friday, 15 February 2013

Theatre review: Hemingway's Fiesta

There's a lot of transatlantic passion trying to fit onto the small Trafalgar 2 stage for Hemingway's Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises), Alex Helfrecht's new stage adaptation of the novel. Jake Barnes (Gideon Turner) is an American journalist in 1920s Paris, wounded in the First World War and now pretty spectacularly drunk most nights. He's shaken up by the reappearance of Brett (Josie Taylor,) the English woman he'd once loved and lost, and who's now got divorced and sought him out. But there are still obstacles, both physical and psychological, to their getting back together, and in her frustration Brett seduces his friend Robert (Jye Frasca.) When she follows Jake to Spain where he's reporting on a promising young bullfighter (Jack Holden,) Mediterranean passions sweep them up.

Helfrecht, who also directs, gives the production an almost permanent musical accompaniment thanks to the Farouche jazz trio, although I though jazz was a more natural fit to the first act's foggy Parisian setting than the second's sweltering Spanish heat.

Hemingway's Fiesta is a perfectly good evening's entertainment but I don't think it'll stay with me for very long. As far as passions go, anger is the one that's better represented than any sexual abandon: Turner is the broken veteran left behind as the world parties on, Frasca the man who thinks he's left behind his days as the Jewish outsider, only to discover he's not as much a part of the in crowd as he thought. Holden provides some glimpses of humour that had been lacking until then, as the teenaged bullfighter with a taste for the things his training regime forbids. But despite numerous sex scenes I didn't ultimately buy Taylor as the sexually liberated centre of the men's lusts and frustrations.

There's some nice touches in Helfrecht's production, like a coldly clinical conceit to represent the many drinks the characters down in the Paris segment, that evolves into something altogether messier when we move to the titular fiesta. But this just ended up being one of those shows where I'd struggle to point out anything specific that didn't work, but which just didn't move me.

Hemingway's Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises) by Alex Helfrecht, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway, is booking until the 2nd of March at Trafalgar Studio 2.

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes including interval.

No comments:

Post a Comment