February 16, 2016

The obvious challenge in adapting a novel to the stage is how to make a story lying flat on the page leap to three-dimensional life. The task is particularly confounding in the case of “2666,” Roberto Bolaño’s magnum opus, published after his death at 50 in 2003. The book spans two continents, nearly a century, two converging story lines — each dangling digressions like an overtrimmed Christmas tree — and runs to around 900 pages of dense prose. Robert Falls, artistic director of the Goodman Theater here, apparently never met a challenge he didn’t jump to meet. In a program note he writes, sensibly, that “2666” is “probably the last novel that one would consider adapting for the stage.” Consider it he did, nonetheless, and he and Seth Bockley, sharing adapting and directing credit, have wrestled Bolaño’s loose, baggy monster of a book (to borrow a Henry James phrase) onto the stage, transforming it into a five-and-a-half-hour production that opened on Tuesday.