Jake (Mike Iveson) is an American journalist in Paris. He spends his time mostly in bars, drinking, when he runs into his old university friend Robert (Matt Tierney). Jake also keeps crossing paths with Brett (Lucy Taylor) who he is in love with. Brett seems to return the feeling but both of them don’t seem to be cut out for a stable relationship, especially not with each other.
While there are very good parts to this play, I never really connected with any of the characters. That way, it gets boring quickly and I spent most of the play trying not to fall asleep.
John Collins has a very literal approach to this adaptation – it feels more like a dramatised reading of the novel than a play. This is interesting and it works for the most part – Hemingway’s dialogues do come to life, even if they sound a little too good to be realistic.
But unfortunately the play is four hours long and that’s about two too much. The various parts where Collins kept the original prose and just let Jake tell what was happening voice-over style were annoying and could have been cut without great loss.
The cast was excellent and made most of it work. Not enough to actually make me care about the characters, but enough that I believed them. I also really liked the lighting and the sound design was brilliant – a lot of humor there.
I thought that it was a little disconcerting, though, how much people drank. I mean, I’m by no means against alcohol but it was just so notable that Hemingway was one hell of an alcoholic whose life revolved around drinking. Or at least that’s the impression I took away from this play.
Summarising: Not my cup of tea.