Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway
By Elevator Repair Service
By Lucy Wilson
It’s rare to experience theatre these days with a cast of ten and a running time of over three hours. It’s also rare for a New York Theatre Company to stage an Ernest Hemingway novel in Hobart. Rumoured as the headline show for this Ten Days on the Island Festival, the award-winning company, Elevator Repair Service, staged The Select (The Sun Also Rises). It’s a semi-autobiographical 1920’s novel about the lost generation of post-war Brits and Americans spending decadent alcohol drenched days in Parisian cafes and visiting a famous bull fighting festival in Spain.
With all this though, in my first encounter with Hemingway, I was unconvinced by the lust, love, jealousy or anger from the roll out of war-deranged masculinity. The friendship/fraught love between the impotent protagonist and the promiscuous star was the only genuine connection, as they said to each other at the end “We could have had such fun together … Isn’t it pretty to think so.” Perhaps this is the intention of both the novel and stage show? Perhaps it’s an accurate representation of post-war British “chaps”? But the final clinching seduction of the matador Pedro Romero (played by a woman) left me wondering what to make of it. The packed opening night audience (who left bottles and glasses from their interval drinks in clusters on the exit stairs, as if the set had spilled out onto the street) seemed in a mix of excitement, tiredness and awe.