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‘A Little Life’ is the most torturous NYC play ever

by NYPost
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‘A Little Life’ is the most torturous NYC play ever

“A Little Life,” is a lot more like “Les Mis.” 

Fans of Hanya Yanagihara’s best-selling novel “A Little Life” have been eager to see the stage adaptation, up at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from October 20 to 29, but it’s proving to be an excruciating theater-going experience. The play clocks in at over four hours, is performed in Dutch — it was first staged in Amsterdam, though the novel was set in New York — and blood spills from the stage as the lead character endures horrific abuse. More than one-third of the audience supposedly left at intermission on opening night.

“Sorry, but this was truly the most horrible play of a book adaptation,” one theatergoer wrote on BAM’s Instagram “The self-mutilation, blood and nudity was just too much.”

Those who manage to sit through the whole thing boast of the horrors they’ve endured.

Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove adapted "A Little Life," now playing at The Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove adapted the best-selling novel “A Little Life,” now playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, however, fans of the book say it’s proving to be an excruciating theater-going experience.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image
"A Little Life" was a finalist for the National Book Awards in 2015 for Fiction.
“A Little Life” was a finalist for the National Book Awards in 2015 for Fiction.
Annie Wermiel/NY Post

“I want an ‘I voted’ sticker that says I sat through the 4+ hour version of ‘A Little Life at BAM!’” Mike Albo, author of the forthcoming “Another Dimension of Us,” tweeted Wednesday after seeing the play Tuesday night.

It was all a bit much for Jessica Firger, a 44-year-old book editor who saw the show Tuesday night.

“The blood, sex, violence and nudity were all gratuitous and excessive. Sometimes suggestion is far more powerful,” said Firger, who loved the book.

The 720-page acclaimed 2015 novel focuses on a group of college friends, chief among them a genius lawyer named Jude St. Francis who is disabled with constant pain in his legs. Over the course of the book, readers learn that Jude suffered a lifetime of sexual abuse and self harms as a result of crippling childhood trauma. Firger, who said the people in front of her were “stress-eating Twizzlers” throughout the play’s first half before leaving at intermission, thinks director Ivo van Hove’s adaptation missed the point.

“The play simply lacked the soul of the novel. At its heart, the novel is about friendship and the family you choose. Yes, Jude’s trauma is central to the novel, but it’s about so much more than that,” she said. “Mostly, the play reduced the story to puddles of stage blood. So much blood!”

Upper East Sider Carrie Callaway, 24, actually enjoyed the production but said someone in front of her passed out watching it.

Hanya Yanagihara is the author of "A Little Life."
Fans of author Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life” turned out to see the play, however, many were dismayed by the gruesome violence and “so much blood,” one audience member noted.
Getty Images for Tmag

“I don’t know if it was because of the gore or something else going on,” Callaway said, noting an actor broke Dutch character to ask in English, “Is she okay, do we need to call someone?” Several people sitting in front of her left during intermission.

Fans of van Hove say this is all par for the course for the director, who is known to get messy, shaking up classics such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “A View from the Bridge.”

“By the time his plays are over there’s tomato juice on the floor, there are food fights, it rains down blood. That’s the way he rolls and people eat it up,” an anonymous theatergoer told The Post. “But four hours of this stuff is bound to leave you with a sore fanny and psychic wounds as well. This is a story that’s been called trauma porn. You’ve been warned if you want to see it.” 

This story originally appeared on NY Post

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