New Town Theatre
9-30 August (ex. 17,24), 18.45
Vibrant and entertaining, this play embodies the spirit of the mid-19th century dancer and courtesan. Lead actress Georgina Roberts is particularly hypnotic as the charismatic performer.
Born in Ireland as Eliza Gilbert, Lola fled her upbringing via an elopement and transformed herself into a Spanish flamenco dancer and celebrity with the help of influential men. She became an icon, particularly in Europe, and indulged in many sexual liaisons, often with the rich and powerful.
However, those not familiar with the events of her extraordinary life may be confused by the narrative, which references rather than explains many key details. The concept that Gilbert and Montez are one and the same is, for example, unclear, due to portrayal by two separate actresses, in parallel, with splices of early and adult life interspersed. The contrast of the two does however emphasise the groundbreaking nature of Lola’s sexuality, strength and liberal behaviour, when contrasted with her repressive Presbyterian upbringing.
Even without knowledge of this fascinating life, of a woman who ‘would stop at nothing to get what she wants,’ the play is still transfixing, and its dramatic moments are so well acted that one is intrigued rather than bamboozled .
The various sexual encounters of this woman who ‘dared to stand up in the might of her own individuality to meet the tidal currents of the world,’ are insinuated evocatively by flamenco rhythms, and executed with passion and humour. A tenderness within this vivacious character is reflected in beautifully melodic Spanish guitar, but the innuendo, though largely entertaining, sometimes falls flat.
An arresting encounter with a free-thinking, ground-breaking and charismatic woman.