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Director and adaptor Alex Helfrecht has cut characters and added an evocatively moody jazz score (played live by Trio Farouche) for this effective stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, completed in 1926 and inspired by his trips to Pamplona and the expatriate post-war set with whom he mingled.

At the centre is war veteran Jake (Gideon Turner), an American journalist whose invisible wounds render him incapable of satisfying the sexual appetites of Lady Brett Ashley, the disruptively promiscuous young woman who has determinedly tracked him down to Paris, then follows him to Spain, seducing both his Jewish novelist friend, Jye Frasca’s Robert (who’s on the verge of marriage) and the teenage matador Pedro Romero in the process.

Full glasses (white wine for Paris, blood red for Spain) hang overhead, fuelling the louche pleasure-seeking existence of a lost generation bent on blocking out the mundane with indulgent excess and the dangerous thrill of the bull run, in a production atmospherically laden with symbolism. 

Trafalgar Studios (2)
Whitehall, SW1A 2DYTube
Charing Cross 
till 2nd March    (£15- £30)


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