The Capone Trilogy: Loki
Romp with the gender swap Norse god in the windy city, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Given Jethro Compton's commitment to serious theatre with a conceptual foundation, it is a delightful surprise to discover that he is capable of directing fast-paced comedy. Loki is the first of his Capone Trilogy and it is a stand-alone whirlwind of vaudeville slapstick and witty word-play.
This Loki is a woman – a show-girl embroiled in affairs of the heart and trying to escape her attraction to Chicago's seedier pleasures. Jamie Wilkes' script recalls frantic farce, with men leaping out of windows, dead nuns and incompetent police men. The sophisticated structure recreates the dramatic events of Lola's prenuptial night as a psychodrama: David Calvitto and Oliver Tilney switch between her various antagonists and give the action a dynamic, hilarious immediacy.
Compton's vision of theatre, which incorporates sound and an immersive, claustrophobic set, creates an intimate atmosphere: if none of the characters are sympathetic, their lives have poignancy. Despite the humour, Lola's tale is tragic and Wilkes clearly reveals how the protagonist's deceits, clever as they are, lead to her inevitable demise. In much the same way, the production uses the humour to make the final tragic ending more emotive.
Suzie Preece's Lola is sensual and dangerous, switching from coy victim to show-girl sex-pot as circumstances demand. As the procession of lovers, policemen, would-be husbands, potential suitors and gangsters come in and out through her windows and doors – and hide beneath the bed, or are dragged into her bathroom – Lola's attempts to disentangle herself become simultaneously more absurd and despairing.
Both the presence of a bridal dress and a nun's habit suggest that redemption and safety are options, but Lola is ultimately doomed by her egotism – and reliance on alcohol. Like the best comedy, Loki is a moral tale, and reaches far beyond the stylish period drama towards a broader comment on the web weaved by flippant fabrications.
C Nova, 0845 260 1234, until 25 Aug, 2pm, £11.50–£13.50 (£9.50–£11.50).