Infinite Jest! Live! On Stage! One Entire Day Only!

Aaron Weiner at Slate reviews the first ever theater adaptapion of the DFW magnum opus, produced with over 12 writers, 3 directors, and 8 sets throughout Berlin in a day-long event. Caffeine was apparently provided. InfintiteJest

True to the novel, quite a few of the play’s scenes have gone on far too long. But length is half the point. This isn’t entertainment in the traditional sense. It’s Wallace-style capital-E Entertainment, whose primary purpose isn’t to bring enjoyment—though it can be enjoyable—but to captivate, to incapacitate, like the novel’s deadly eponymous film whose viewers are so thoroughly entertained that they cease to eat, drink, sleep and, eventually, live. There weren’t, as far as I could tell, any casualties the day I took this infinite theater tour, though a good number of my 150 fellow travelers dropped out before the sun came up. As with the novel, the play was very much a test of endurance.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Taking it back to the start, then: The apprehensive masses gathered at the Rot-Weiss tennis club in far-west Berlin, a stone’s throw from the great concavity of the Grunewald forest, at 9:30 in the morning. We were told little. Wear sturdy shoes. The play will let out at 10 on Thursday morning in the Kreuzberg district. The performance will be in English and German. A care package with stimulants will be provided.

More here.