Delusions, Depression and Paranoia 

pamplona_01Ernest Hemmingway the American novelist, who works are considered classics of American literature, published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two non-fiction works. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Old Man and The Sea.’ Hemmingway audacious lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. But, what plagued the man who chose to commit suicide and end what seemed to be a great life?

Director Robert Falls brings to the stage ‘PAMPLONA’ a one-person show starring film, television and theater legend, Stacy Keach as the legendary writer Ernest Hemingway. In 2017 he revisited the famous author to delve into the pressures and paranoia in Hemmingway’s final year; where complications with his health led to an early production run. However, Keach successfully takes the stage in 2018 to continue the collaboration between Goodman Theatre and Robert Falls and his performance is magnificent.

Hemingway’s book, “The Sun Also Rises” is about a group that travels to the Festival of San Fernín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights.

pamplona_pro02Falls brings this story to life, set in PAMPLONA (named for the story in the Spanish town where the legendary ‘Running of the Bulls’ takes place at the Festival of San Fernin)  on October 11, 1959, in his favorite hotel room 217, at Gran Hotel La Perla. This is where we get to see how the mind of the troubled soul of Hemingway is faced with financial, political and emotional health turmoil right after his 60th birthday.

During this 90-minute play, Stacy Keach does a remarkable job keeping us engaged in Hemmingway’s tumultuous life. The audience was transfixed on his words as he provides us with the highs and lows of Hemmingway and his daily battle with depression and delusions.

It is during this time the aging writer whose body and mind has failed him had returned back to Spain where he found success as a young writer with his literary triumph of the tragedy and the ritual of the bullfight.

Relishing in the splendor of his career-defining awards the 1953 Pulitzer Prize and the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 the renowned writer Ernest Hemingway claims his best work is yet to come but acknowledges that after the prize (Noble and Pulitzer) comes immense pressure.

Ernest who in the play is experiencing writer's block is trying with little success to write the first line of an article where he was commissioned to write for Life magazine. He starts to reminisce over his life as he gives us a glimpse of his past starting back from his childhood in Oak Park, IL; how his mother dressed him up as a girl and paraded him and his sister around town as dolls. How he fell in love with his four wives and his paranoia with J. Edgar Hoover who had a suspicion of his Cuban connections.

pamplona_pro05After his unfortunate illness last year, Stacy Keach could have decided to forgo the strenuous task of preparing for a one-person performance; however, Keach was not only up to the task; he excelled it.

We recommend doing a little research about PAMPLONA if you are not familiar with Hemingway’s writing or haven’t read The Sun Also Rises. This will provide you with more insight on how Keach performance brings to life this famous author and provide more enjoyment.

Let’s Play recommends PAMPLONA at the Goodman Theatre.
Solo Performance by Stacy Keach

Goodman Theatre presents

The World Premiere of Pamplona

By Jim McGrath

Directed by Robert Falls

July 15th – August 19th


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