Lola: The Life of Lola Montez
Biographical drama flamenco-style
This article is from 2009.
The life of Lola Montez is ideal for the stage: an Irish woman who re-invented herself as a Spanish dancer, her fame in the 19th century makes her the natural ancestor of the modern celebrity. Yet this complex story is confused by the rapid pace, and fails to do Montez justice.
The cast work hard, and Ricardo Garcia’s flamenco guitar drives the action, but it is unclear who the characters are – Lola’s various lovers merge together – while the themes of guilt and religion are clumsy. Dancer, Frederic Gomez is underused, and the structure lurches between episodes.
Montez herself is, fittingly, a mystery. Memories of childhood give her motivation, but she seems to cross the world without any reference to politics, art or society. There are allusions to times and places - one moment, she is in Bavaria, the next in Australia: yet there is no sense of the culture of that era. That the cast are so solid makes the disorder all the more disappointing.
The central character is ripe for rediscovery: an early feminist icon, perhaps, or a charlatan who exposed the absurdity of the century’s attitudes to art and women. Unfortunately, this production doesn’t rescue her from obscurity.
New Town Theatre, 0844 477 1000, until 30 Aug (not 24), 6.45pm, £11–£12 (£9–£10).