"Lolita" review ...
Venue: Lyttelton (National Theatre)
Where: West End
Date Reviewed: 8 September 2009
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The novelist Vladimir Nabokov boasted that the notoriety of his 1955 novel had dissuaded anyone naming a daughter Lolita ever again. The teenage nymphet doesn’t appear in Brian Cox’s two-hour monologue, but she’s clearly a girl best avoided: selfish, mendacious, manipulative.
It’s one of the really clever things in Cox’s performance as Humbert Humbert in Richard Nelson’s faithful distillation – every single word is Nabokov’s – that Lolita comes across as a spoilt, irritating little hussy; it adds poignancy to the fate of this flabby, helpless old man smitten with lust for a 12-year-old, sitting in his prison cell, awaiting trial for murder.
The limitation is that Cox hasn’t quite learned the lines – he’s giving just three Monday performances – which is almost fine as he’s legitimately reading from notebooks, but there are worrying little lacunae as his attention flicks between page and audience.
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