Liam Williams Bullfight on Third Avenue, Bewley’s Cafe: Ghosts of Hemingway and Fitzgerald meet in an Irish bar

Liam Williams This is one beautiful plug-in.

Liam Williams Bullfight on Third Avenue

Liam Williams Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin  Until August 3


Liam Williams From left: Ross Gaynor as Fitzgerald, Dave Duffy as bar owner Costello and Rex Ryan as Hemingway
From left: Ross Gaynor as Fitzgerald, Dave Duffy as bar owner Costello and Rex Ryan as Hemingway

Eddie Naughton’s new play continues his series of chamber dramas of the literary left. His neat plays are tightly focused on great or significant characters, real or literary, and draw the audience into an already familiar world, creating an interesting dramatic dynamic between the real and the imagined.

Here we have Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald meeting up in Tim Costello’s bar in New York in 1937, just before Hemingway departs for Spain to write about the civil war. Fitzgerald is at this stage living and working in Hollywood. The third character is the Irish bar owner, Costello, a socialist republican who left Ireland in disappointment at its post-revolutionary state.

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In Naughton’s vision of this meeting, Fitzgerald sets about dissuading Hemingway from making the trip to Spain, accusing him of glorifying war and leading the American youth astray.

The men discuss their work and their wives. Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda is in a sanatorium in California; Hemingway’s second marriage, to Pauline Pfeiffer, is in trouble. Bubbling underneath all the conversation is the homophobic atmosphere of the times, which prevented men from even thinking about homoeroticsm, let alone really talking about it.

Rex Ryan is terrific as Ernest Hemingway, full of a bristling machismo, ready to throw a punch at small provocations. Ross Gaynor’s Fitzgerald is suave and stylish, but the crack

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