The Imùlè Theatre’s staging of Hemingway’s classic did not translate into a chorus wielding, light show, West End spectacle. It consisted of a man, accompanied by woman on harp, encompassing the theme of storytelling. Advertised as ‘a storytelling experience’, that is exactly what it was.
Hemingway’s writing is imbued with reflections on age, defeat, and honour, all of which translated beautifully to the stage. From David Evan’s character, to the productions minimalist setting, the Imùlè Theatre did the novel justice.
As with most storytelling, the performance gained momentum as it continued. This ‘storytelling experience’ was not constructed of memorised extracts, instead the text was revived with a second life through improvisation. As much as this gave an energy to the piece, it did cause some problems with a few jittery moments here and there. However, this made little difference.
Tanvir's harp playing should not and cannot be understated. The music brought a real beauty to the play - sometimes adding a lightness, or creating an oceanic ambiance. The production's magnificence was undoubtedly due to some of Hemingway’s descriptions. David Evans suited the role of The Old Man with a grace that dutifully served Hemingway’s character. This was best displayed in Evans moments of description, which were delivered faultlessly and powerfully. The staging of the Marlin’s jump was brought to life, made both stunning and beautiful by Evan’s dignified physicality and Anna Tanvir’s harp playing.
A sophisticated testament to storytelling in a great venue. The small space of the Alma Tavern allowed David Evans to talk to a few people after the play, confirming a real passion and genuine interest for his craft.