By Holli Harms
This was the novel that had the literary world standing up and taking notice. The words are clear and accessible, the story is timeless with dialogue that flows like water. It is with those words and that dialogue that the L.A. Theatre Works presents Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises as an audio theater piece for you to sit back in your most comfy of chairs or couch or bed for that matter, and listen to the 90 minutes of Kate McAll’s wonderful adaptation. Director Anna Lyse Erikson has put together a cast of actors whose voices evoke both the times of the novel and at the same time, modern 21st century lost youth searching for their identities.
Before the Rat Pack, before The Breakfast Club, and St. Elmo’s Fire, there was this book, The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway’s account of the lost generation, ex-pats living in France, drinking, carousing, and doing their best to forget the World War they had survived, in constant search for their lost selves. Selves without a country, without a place to call home filled with memories, bouncing around the continent looking for the next excitement and the next and the next.
Hemingway in his straightforward style trims out all extra words, all adjectives, and adverbs in his storytelling. The narrator is Jake Barnes, a journalist working in Paris and a veteran who fought and was injured in WWI. His injury has left him impotent, a handsome young man no longer desired by the pretty women as he is less than whole, a symbol of a generation. Jake introduces us to his mates Robert Cohn, Bill Gorton, and his ex-girlfriend the gorgeous Brett who will be the center of the male attention. She uses her beauty to manipulate the men in this group of partiers for pleasure, for a way to have nights filled with as much excitement and avoidance of self as possible.
They live self-perceived dull lives that they fill with drink and rhetoric spilling over to a trip to Spain to watch a week of bullfighting. With a hole bigger than love can ever fill, Brett dances away from her fiancee’ Mike, and towards the bullfighter whom she will leave Jake and the others behind for. They have all come to witness the pageantry of the bullfighters who live danger, live life, live desire, live more than drink and conversation. It is the fullness of the bullfighter’s life standing on the edge of death that intrigues our heroes. “We all died in the war in one way or another,” says Jake. “One generation passes away and the sun also rises.” The bullfight is authentic, now in the present, the thing they are all pursuing. Looking for a satisfying life (whatever that is) especially after having lived through a war and a massive three-wave epidemic. A man and a formidable creature head to head. Fairness of sorts and yet not. Two creatures with their own know-how and weapons face one another. A presence filled with simplicity and strength.
This is one of the best audio productions and not to be missed, especially for lovers of good words, good characters, and actors who bring them to life. L.A. Theatre Works has on-demand audio performances of over 600 novels and plays that you can purchase to listen to anywhere, even a long car ride.
Thank you L.A. Theatre Works, Kate McAll, Anna Lyse Erikson, and the wonderful cast for putting Hemingway’s words into such a magnificent piece of theater.
The Sun Also Rises adapted by Kate McAll, from the novel by
Ernest Hemingway, directed by Anna Lyse Erikson
Go HERE to listen to The Sun Also Rises and other plays and novels.