London ReviewsREVIEWSREVIEWS BYSaul Reichlin

Invitation To A Beheading

Invitation To A Beheading

By Vladimir Nabokov

Adapted and directed by Victor Sobchak

Theatre Collection

Baron’s Court Theatre

28a Comeragh Rd, London W149HR

Call (0)20 8932 4747

Tickets £10 – £12

Wed – Sat 7.30pm Sun 6.30pm

Running time 2 hrs with intermission

Through April 24 2016

Trust Me, I’m An Executioner  ***

This sparkling play derives from the book of the same name, by Vladimir Nabokov. It has provoked much analysis and much comparison with Kafka, whom he never read. Written in Nazi Germany and published in 1938, with the war around the corner, it does not seem such a mystery to find some poor sod banged up and awaiting execution for having nothing more than impure thoughts, or ‘gnostic turpitude’ as he called it.

For the piece to work, the audience should be bewildered as to why he is being given the treatment a cat gives a mouse. And so I was. As  Cincinnatus, in the standout performance of the evening, Garry Voss earns his star billing handsomely. His depths and his hopes, his bewilderment and his frustrations told of his total immersion in the absurd cruelty of Nabokov’s  imagination. An impressive and magnetic performance.

Distilling the author’s brilliance in his adaptation, and injecting this cocktail of the theatre of the absurd and theatre of cruelty into his cast, adaptor/director Victor Sobchak has  produced a ‘style’, perhaps intended to show, in each characterization of the large cast, the surreal artificiality of the prisoner’s ‘friends’.

Some effort has been spent on costume and the impressive sound, and maximum use is made of the most unusual layout of this three sided stage. This company continues to provide the London fringe with some of the most interesting drama ever written.


Saul Reichlin