I knew things were off to a good start from the moment I walked into studio two at The Trafalgar Studios. It was like entering a jazz club. Suspended wine glasses, sultry lighting, fantastic music and Gideon Turner in the centre of the room – what more could you ask for?!
Fiesta begins with all the joviality you would expect to see in a Parisian bar where two friends, Jake (Gideon Turner) and Robert (Jye Frasca) meet to drink, discuss and drink and drink. The set is simple, bare and absolutely spot on; anything more would have taken focus away from the brilliant actors. Only the suspended glasses decorate the stage and are the focal point for the entire play; constantly touched to indicate the debauchery of the era. The Trafalgar Studios seem to enjoy making a mess of their stage as red wine splatters over the actors and next door at Macbeth, blood sprays down like sprinklers!
The men are joined by Lady Brett Astley (Josie Taylor) who breezes in with all the confidence and grace who would expect of an aristo. Lady Astley is a colourful, crazy character and Taylor plays her wonderfully. She is so believable and under the direction of Alex Helfrecht, includes so many nuances and unspoken responses which wholly complete her. Helfrecht builds up the intensity, hinting it at the beginning of the play and slowly steam-training it. This is all aided by the sounds from Trio Farouche (sax, drums and double bass) who not only add to the atmosphere but are also part of the play. This is a really clever aspect as the musicians are not just providing sounds to accompany the drama, but are included in scenes, almost like actors. There are no set changes but the music guides you through scene changes, totally shifting the pace. I have never been a jazz fan, finding it clunky and messy but these guys have added a whole new meaning to smooth.
I believed in the lust, the jealousy and the tension; this is an energetic and intelligent piece of work and I urge you to go see this. Watching the drama in such a small space pulls you even closer into Fiesta and at the start Jake Barnes talks to the audience directly. I wanted more of this as it felt like a strange experience to do just the once, and there are other occasions when it could have happened but didn’t.
Helfrecht has sliced Hemingwayʼs 1926 novel Fiesta (aka The Sun Also Rises) into a tidy two hours and ten minutes. This is an adaptation remember, not a direct copy of the book, so take your open mind along to Studio Two and enjoy a highly sexual and intense fiesta.
Reviewed by Josephine Kime @josephinekime
Booking From: Tuesday 5th February 2013
Booking Until: Saturday 2nd March 2013
Sunday 24th February 2013