Trevor Nunn's production has absolutely every ingredient bang in place and fitting together beautifully... so why do I remain so stubbornly uncaptivated?
Kelly Hunter has the measure of Lola all right: an adroit marionettist of male admirers, but (unlike Wedekind's Lulu) less given to active exploitation than simply allowing others to delude themselves into the pits of rank hypocrisy. Philip Madoc's Professor Raat throws himself into the business of revenge and extortion with the assiduity he'd previously brought to teaching Latin deponent verbs, becoming truly the sewer-Raat of his students' epithet for him. Nunn's direction is as sure and thoughtful as ever, Maria Björnson's expressionist set a sheer joy, and the cabaret sequences strike the requisite period balance between spectacle and tackiness. But, and yet again but...
Easy as it is to ascribe shortcomings to the venue itself, transferring from The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon into the 900-seater proscenium-arch Globe inevitably robs the production of almost all its intimacy; for a play focusing upon a Weimar Republic cabaret venue, this is crippling. This is decadence that's been boxed and is being sold in a large economy pack. Stripped of the chance to engage either physically or emotionally, one can do little but politely admire. And there is a lot to admire, but there's no thrill, of any kind.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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