Too Close to the Sun

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Too Close to the Sun
Promotional Poster
Music John Robinson
Lyrics Roberto Trippini
John Robinson
Book Roberto Trippini
Basis A fictional account of the final days in the life of Ernest Hemingway
Productions 2009 West End

Too Close to the Sun is a musical with a book by Roberto Trippini and music and lyrics by Trippini and John Robinson, based on a play by Ron Read. The musical is a fictionalized account of the last days in the life of Ernest Hemingway.


Too Close to the Sun began previews at the Comedy Theatre in the West End on 16 July 2009 and officially opened on 24 July.[1] It received uniformly unfavourable reviews and closed on 8 August, bringing its planned eight-week run to an end six weeks early.[2][3] Directed by Pat Garrett, the opening night cast included James Graeme as Ernest Hemingway, Helen Dallimore as Mary Hemingway, and Tammy Joelle as Louella. Citing a knee injury, Jay Benedict had withdrawn from his role of Rex early in the previews. He was replaced by Christopher Howell who performed all of the remaining performances.[3] Sets and costumes were designed by Christopher Woods.[4]


In the summer of 1961 on the Hemingway ranch in Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway's young secretary, Louella, is plotting to become his fifth wife and heir to his estate. Rex De Havilland, an old friend of the author and now a struggling Hollywood producer, arrives to secure the film rights to Hemingway's life. Anxious to achieve his goal by any means possible, he tries to convince Hemingway's wife Mary the project will give the ailing writer a new lease on life. Hemingway, however, fails to succumb to the charms of either Louella or Rex, and he banishes both from his home before committing suicide with a shot to his head.

Musical numbers[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The musical received unanimously unfavourable reviews. Dominic Maxwell of The Times rated it one out of five stars, calling it "pretty dire" and "such a muted, muddled experience, such a waste of time and talent, that there's not really much to snigger about." He described the score as "banal, borrowed and clumsy."[5] Writing for The Guardian, Michael Billington also rated the "implausible and unnecessary musical" one out of five stars and cited "the instantly forgettable two dozen numbers by John Robinson that fatally clog the action."[6] Rhoda Koenig of The Independent similarly rated it one star, writing: "Robinson's trite music pootles about aimlessly and tunelessly, and the lyrics (a Robinson-Trippini collaboration) eschew rhyme as well as reason." In closing, she observed, "Trippini complained some years ago that West End musicals were based on 'formulas which have proved capable of attracting a steady flow of ... customers.' There seems little danger of anyone taking Too Close to the Sun for one of these."[7] Ben Dowell of thelondonpaper commented, "Even literary giant Ernest Hemingway would be hard pressed to summon words damning enough to capture quite how appalling, risible and offensively drab John Robinson's musical – yes musical ... is." Dowell gave it a no-star rating.[8]


  1. ^ "Too Close to the Sun Listing Detail,", 24 June 2009
  2. ^ Baracaia, Alexa. "Too Close To The Sun to Close After Two Weeks" The London Paper, accessed 27 July 2009
  3. ^ a b Paddock, Terri "Too Close to the Sun Posts Closing Notices, 8 Aug", accessed 28 Jul 2009
  4. ^ "Too Close To The Sun Production Information and Cast List",, accessed 14 July 2009
  5. ^ Maxwell, Dominic. "Too Close to the Sun, at the Comedy Theatre, SW1", The Times, 25 July 2009
  6. ^ Billington, Michael. Too Close to the Sun review, The Guardian, 25 July 2009
  7. ^ Koenig, Rhoda. "First Night: Too Close to the Sun", The Independent, 25 July 2009
  8. ^ Dowell, Ben. "Too Close To The Sun, Comedy Theatre - review", thelondonpaper, 27 July 2009.

External links[edit]