March 1, 2017
Special to The Alexandria Times
Shakespeare Theatre Company is currently playing host to the Elevator Repair Service’s off-beat The Select (The Sun Also Rises). Directed by John Collins the famed New York-based troupe caps off their trilogy of singular adaptations based on classic American novels with this final production based on one of Hemingway’s most venerated novels. Set in Paris and Spain, it is filled with dialogue and prose from the original and re-interpreted to form the core of the play.
The story centers around the expatriate community of the 1920’s, a group Hemingway fraternized with when he was a war correspondent. Many of this “Lost Generation” were artists, writers, scions of well-to-do American families and an occasional noble of lesser pedigree. Most were there to soak up the Parisian joie de vivre while seeking creative inspiration. The story is colored with Hemingway’s penchant for drinking, fishing, drinking, bull-fighting, drinking, eating and drinking. In other words, steady volumes of whiskey, martinis, champagne and wine consumed, followed by periods of fighting, boredom, sticky love affairs and enfeebling hangovers.
The main characters are writer and Princeton grad Robert Cohn (John Collins); newspaperman Jake Barnes (Mike Iveson) who serves as the story’s narrator; Frances (Kate Scelsa) Robert’s erstwhile paramour; Mike (Pete Simpson) Brett’s fiancé: and Lady Brett Ashley (Stephanie Hayes) who is inclined to hook up with every handsome fellow she meets including the dashing young bullfighter Romero (Susie Sokol) who proves this cougar’s ultimate undoing.
The 13-member cast plays multiple roles in this dizzying staging that spotlights the post-war bohemian life in Paris with all its witty remarks and cutting retorts punctuated by manly pursuits. And Scenic & Costume Designer David Zinn does a fine job with the clever set of five exits providing the cast with multiple ways to quickly exit and re-enter as a new character.
I kept thinking this is just the ticket for millennials who are lately much enamored of the Paris of this period. To that end, the playbill includes recipes for Hemingway’s favorite cocktails among other theatre events being held during the run. Or check out the “Hemingway Daiquiri Cocktail Workshop” on March 9th between 6:30 and 7:30pm in Sidney Harman Hall.
Running time – 3 hours and 15 minutes
Though April 2nd at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20003. For tickets and information contact the Box Office at 202 547-1122 or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org