by Vladimir Nabokov
Adapted by Victor Sobchak
directed by Victor Sobchak and Chris Diacopoulos
at Baron’s Court Theatre, 28a Comeragh Rd London W14 9HR
Call 00 44 (0) 208 932 4747
April 9,16, 23 at 3pm April 11, 12, 18, 19 at 7.30pm
Running time 2 hours with intermission
This won’t hurt, darling. Promise!
Vladimir Nabokov’s sensational 1955 novel arrived at The Rabbit Hole Theatre, Hampstead via an excellent adaptation by Director Victor Sobchak. The first season of Theatre Collection’s residency at this intimate North London venue is well launched with one of their most popular productions, which will transfer to The Baron Court Theatre, from April 9th.
In the past, other versions of this story, notably Stanley Kubrik’s 1962 film, the age of the young girl and the emphasis on just how perverse Humbert is in his obsession with the ‘nymphet’ Charlotte (Lolita) is adjusted according to the permissions of censors, and the mores of the time. In this highly original version of the story, the young girl goes to great lengths to flaunt her charms at the lodger, Humbert, who also provides a target for the girl’s mother (a man-eating performance by Chloe Fontaine).
In Sobchak’s adaptation, the fresh and modern feel is enhanced by the appearance by none other than Vladimir Nabokov himself, a constant alter ego, tormentor, and co-accused in their alternating appearances at a trial in which the audience are cast as jurors. A fuller exploration of this conceipt might have heightened tension even further than it did.
In the title role, Katie Joyce travels a rich path, from the daring young tease, to the manipulating, but vulnerable sexual adventuress, to the woman of depth and sadness, in an utterly believable and compelling performance. Mark Aldridge as Humbert presents a seemingly confused, weak, but driven man, unable to resist the girl. Sassy Clyde provided a marvellous characterisation as the drunken vamp, Constance.
In this day and age, when trials of men who have abused and molested children are a regular news item, this is a tricky plot to traverse, but the treatment in this constantly absorbing production is theatrically superbly handled. An evening of quality drama.