It is awfully easy to be hard boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises) is a distilled and spare adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel, The Sun Also Rises. Adapted and directed by Alex Helfrect, ALEX HELFRECHT, the play is set in 1920s Paris and Pamplona and follows stoic – and often drunk – American journalist and bullfighting aficionado Jake Barnes as he examines the wounds and memories from his time served during WW1.
As you might expect, Helfrect couldn’t cram every page – or even many characters – onto the stage for her adaptation. Still, Fiesta stays true to the spirit of Hemingway’s first novel. In particular, the language is economic and punchy, resulting in a compelling and enjoyable play that shouldn’t leave many ardent Hemingway fans hankering for more. Set design (Rachel Noel) is equally restrained yet effective with key elements of the story honed to accentuate the dialogue and decisions of the characters.
The small ensemble of actors gives engaging performances. Josie Taylor is especially potent in her role as the unabashed Lady Brett Ashley who seeks out her old lover Jake (solidly played by Gideon Turner) after seven years silence and brings with her a storm of passion and devastating consequence for Jake’s novelist buddy Robert Cohn (Jye Frasca) and the pompous yet naïve bullfighter Pedro Romero (Jack Holden).
Backing up and sometimes taking part in the action on stage is jazz band, Trio Farouche, who lay down a throbbing and dynamic soundtrack for the show. Indeed, they’d be a swell band to see on their own.
Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises) is on now until 2 March at Trafalgar Studio 2, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY. Performance times are Monday to Saturday 7:45 p.m. with matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 3 p.m. Ticket prices start at £15 (about $23). The nearest public transportation is Charing Cross Station but a number of other Tube station are close at hand as well. For more information visit FiestaWestEnd.com.
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Photo: Deborah Goodman Publicity