24 Hours Of Infinite Jest?
I can’t think of one thing, maybe other than breathing, that I would, of my own free will, do for 24 hours.
Of all the things I would not do, somewhere in the upper portions of that list would be to watch a 24 hour play of Infinite Jest.
Wait a minute, you ask…Infinite Jest has been adapted into a play? Why, yes. Yes it has. Leave it to our German friends. An expiremental theater company in Berlin, Hebbel am Ufer, embraced this epic undertaking—with mixed results, if you read Aaron Wiener’s review on Slate.
Using Berlin as a stage for the play—that’s actual real-life places in Berlin that serve as sets for different scenes throughout the 24 hours—the actors jump around to perform DFW’s masterpiece in these historic venues. Says Weiner:
Over the course of 24 hours, the shell-shocked and increasingly substance-dependent audience is transported to eight of the city’s iconic settings, which serve as analogs for the venues to which the discursive novel continually returns.
The AA meeting in a school cafeteria, the Eschaton game on a tennis court (also reenacted by The Decemberists), the Steeply and Marathe meetings overlooking the city, and even more according to Slate:
And there was so much more: a conceptual representation of clinical depression in a defunct hospital cafeteria, converted into the novel’s drug rehabilitation center, that nearly brought me to the point of institutionalization myself; an interactive jaunt through a trippy apartment with a paranoid addict, whom I helped into a giant insect costume; a musical performance by drug-addled transvestite Poor Tony Krause in the utterly befuddling American Western Saloon out in the aforementioned sticks.
You can’t turn Infinite Jest into a two-hour play. You can’t put it on a conventional stage. And you can’t send your audience away without at least a small dose of pain.
I surprised myself by enjoying this novel for the most part. But if, God forbid, someone in the U.S. ever takes a stab at a 24 hour production of Infinite Jest, I think I’ll take a pass.