Review: The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

Elevator Repair Service goes on a fantastic bender with Hemingway.

  • Photograph: Mark Burton

    Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

    Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises) at New York Theatre Workshop

  • Photograph: Mark Burton

    Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

    Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises) at New York Theatre Workshop

  • Photograph: Mark Burton

    Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

    Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises) at New York Theatre Workshop

Photograph: Mark Burton

Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises) at New York Theatre Workshop

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

The art of bullfighting—barbarous though the tradition may be—lies in dancerly misdirection. The torero rustles his red cape and the bull gallops; with a flick of the wrist and swivel of the hips, the agile matador remains ungored and his fatigued, horned adversary gets nearer to the fatal thrust. Something similar is happening at New York Theatre Workshop, where Elevator Repair Service has opened The Select (The Sun Also Rises), the final part of its trilogy of theatricalized great novels. In previous forays, director John Collins and his immensely talented corps of actors and designers stood bravely in front of whole charging novels, staging every word of The Great Gatsby and the densely gothic first part of The Sound and the Fury. Here they find clever ways to prick and subdue Hemingway's 1926 picaresque about lovesick expats drinking their souls away in Paris and Spain, taking the occasional breather from waterfalls of booze to fight, flirt or admire the carnage in Pamplona. By retaining much of the book's dialogue and key bits of connective narration from Jake Barnes (inscrutably affable Mike Iveson), The Select is a straighter adaptation than the Fitzgerald and Faulkner ones, but still a fascinating duel between literalism and abstraction.

Collins's unit set re-creates one of the expats' favorite bars, the Caf Select, and his sound-design duo (Matt Tierney and Ben Williams, who also play brooding boxer Robert Cohn and wisecracking Bill Gorton) live-mix an aural tapestry of French 1960s pop, Spanish guitar and found audio, layered to evoke the tumult of a Madrid fiesta and many other locales. At about 200 minutes, the production demands a chunk of your day, but unlike those lost-generation drifters on a bitter bender, you will remember every magic, sensual pleasure the next morning.

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New York Theatre Workshop. Created by Elevator Repair Service. Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Dir. John Collins. With ensemble cast. 3hrs 30mins. One intermission. See complete event information