Why The Sun Also Rises is the least successful transatlantic crossing since Titanic
Steve Cramer's Festival blog
This article is from 2010.
I suppose the one compensation of sitting through the unforgivable The Sun Also Rises at the Lyceum was that it provided a little relief from the endless prurient sex obsessions of the Traverse next door, where one leaves every other show with the feeling of having been heavily beaten with a wet dildo. While there was plenty of lust on display, it was mainly played so slowly that it felt more like a very long century by Geoff Boycott than anything remotely connected with sex. Here it was of such longevity as to leave Sting with a bit of “do what?”
This production by New York’s Elevator Repair Service illustrates a dilemma of the Fringe, which the EIF too often fails to exploit. Fringe shows, because of the immense cost of auditorium time to companies, are often badly truncated, much to their detriment. A few years back, I remember a flight back from New York where I read a play of great power being rehearsed there titled Dirty Works by the young dramatist Jamie Linley. I’d estimate that the original script would have run to just shy of two hours, but by the time it had been wedged into its fringe slot, it was barely half that length, and its effect suffered commensurately. This is far from an isolated case on the Fringe.
The EIF, booked as they are into big theatres, need not suffer such indignities. But at times, there seems to be an insistence on self-indulgent overlength, with this production a case in point. The sun not only rises, but felt as if it had set a couple of times before this arse-epic was over. The people next to me left at the intermission, I assume because they were cutting it fine for work in the morning, while I trudged dutifully back in wondering what would have happened to the pension I was due by the time I emerged. This was a shame on more than one front; I spotted my friend and respected peer Alan Chadwick and his charming partner Julie at the intermission, and the Great Chadsby and I planned a post show pint. Sadly by the conclusion, we were all far too old for alcohol. Had they not been two rows in front of me throughout, they might have had such lovely children ...
What’s so frustrating is that this company are much fancied in New York, and the technical presentation, particularly the lighting, as well as several performances were of such quality that it’s clear that these yanks are no mean company. But such was the languorous self indulgence that this piece amounted to the least successful transatlantic crossing since Titanic. When it comes to love, surely even The Pointer Sisters would want a bit less tantric and a bit more tempo.