Papa at the Open Fist Theatre Company

BACK STAGE WEST’s Wenzel Jones raves!

“Had John deGroot not written this engaging peek into a vodka-soaked afternoon in the life of Ernest Hemingway, then actor Adrian Sparks would have had to commission this one-man show elsewhere. Rarely does one witness a performer so completely inhabiting the skin of an historical figure. Hemingway prowls around the living room of his Cuban home railing against emasculating women and spinning out his ongoing romance with death while pouring ever pinker Bloody Marys. Unlike real people, this character becomes more captivating the drunker he gets. The script, constructed from interviews with many who knew the famed author, has both the ring of truth and the thrill of eavesdropping, as the portrait is not altogether flattering. It is never, however, unbelievable.

Sparks is a consummate raconteur as he draws the audience in. . . . The directorial hand is so deftly employed as to be invisible. Martha Demson has obviously not let her actor run wild–that kind of show has a special look all its own–but her vision and that of her actor meld so seamlessly as to cause the audience members to forget we’re watching a performance. By the time the show builds to an almost Homeric conclusion, with thunder crashing and Hemingway letting loose a few lighting bolts of his own, we are utterly in its thrall.”

LA WEEKLY’s Steve Mikulan Recommends!

“Playwright John deGroot’s one-man show, starring Adrian Sparks, displays a Papa Hemingway in full sunset glory as self-mythologist, raconteur and critic of American small-mindedness. . . . Under Martha Demson’s relaxed direction, Sparks’ Hemingway is a brawling, profane and surprisingly likable Hemingway who guides us along an anecdotal safari of his life. Sparks also bears an uncanny resemblance to the novelist, which doesn’t hurt. DeGroot may err a little on the side of laughter (Kenneth Rexroth once said a sure way to earn Hemingway’s lasting spite was “to loan him two bits,” a side of Hemingway that remains unexplored here), but his two-act, 90-minute monologue is a pleasant way to reacquaint ourselves with an American legend – and a hard-drinking male American obsessed with sexual swagger and fears of castration.”

Open Fist, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood
: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays
Ends: Feb. 18
Price: $15 to $20
Contact: (323) 882-6912, http://www.openfist.org
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

LA Times Review- Hemingway captured, in looks and in form – Los Angeles Times

Play7.com- PAPA | PLAY7

Ovation Award – Best Set Design, Jeff Rack
Ovation Award Nomination – Best Production, PAPA
Ovation Award Nomination – Best Performance by a Leading Actor, Adrian Sparks
Ovation Award Nomination – Best Sound Design, Tim Labor
Ovation Award Nomination – Best Lighting Design, Dan Reed

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