The cast of Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises
A stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises is coming to the West End next month. Rupert Basham talks to Jack Holden, a Barons Court actor about bringing the classic book to life.
A ROCKET explodes over the town and the fiesta roars into life.
As crowds spill on to the streets, the wine starts to flow and the dancing begins.
At the centre of this frivolity is a group of expatriates who have travelled from the bohemian quarters of Paris to the Spanish town of Pamplona to experience the famous San Fermin festival and the testosterone filled world of bullfighting.
Based on one of the 20th Century's greatest novels, Ernest Hemingway's Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises is coming to the West End and at the centre of it is an actor from Barons Court.
Jack Holden plays Romero, a young and gifted matador who steals the heart of promiscuous socialite Lady Brett Ashley, the only woman in the party and who is already embroiled in a love triangle with the play's other characters, Jake Barnes & Robert Cohn.
While the book saunters along at a languid pace taking in a lot of the beautiful Spanish countryside, the story has been streamlined for the theatre and now fuses live jazz performances and dynamic choreography to place greater emphasis on the passionate love story, the brutality of the bull ring and the decadence of the age.
The 22-year-old said: "The book is famous for detailing the lifestyle of expats living in Paris after the First World War as well as the festival in Pamplona.
"As we're in a small space we've got to use techniques that will draw out the atmosphere and create a stylised version of the story, which we do through dancing and music. The movement of the matador is very graceful so that's quite easy to do.
"It's not a literal stage adaptation but it does have the essence of The Sun Also Rises. We've had to take the surplus out of it, which means losing a few characters and a few sections of the book.
"When you're trying to get the story across in just over an hour you need the most centred version of the book and that sadly means losing some of the lovely bits.
"We're trying to capture the spirit and passion of it and really bring Paris and Pamplona to life."
The actor is used to working with treasured source material after making his stage debut in one of the capital's favourite shows, War Horse, in 2011, winning the lead role of Albert straight out of stage school.
Despite the difference in scale, he is as passionate about the intimate staging of 1920s Spain as he is about the grandiose storytelling of the First World War.
He said: "Albert was my first role, I left stage school in July and got the part in August. I was so lucky and I couldn't have asked for a better year in which to do that show, what with the film also being released and the Olympics taking place, it was absolutely fantastic.
"In a way it was the worst first job I could get because it set the bar so high.
"That auditorium sits 1,100 so to come back to a tiny space is quite a relief and it's exciting. We don't have to project anything, we just play it for real."
The actor hopes that the show's month long run at the intimate Trafalgar Studio 2 will exceed that time as fans of the book warm to the adaptation and its use of jazz music and dance.
He said: "I think it's going to exist in its own right. Hopefully the right people will come and see it and its run will be extended or even moved to a bigger venue, because I'd love continue doing it.
"I hope that fans of the book will come to see it, knowing that it's not going to be a straight adaptation, but will realise that we're trying to bring that world to life up on the stage."
For more information, visit http://www.fiestawestend.com/