- March 6, 2017
There’s so much in Brighton to do that even after many years I can always find something or somewhere new. Take for instance The Purple Playhouse Theatre, a wonderful theatre off Seven Dials. It’s part of the Grace Eyre charity building in Montefiore Road but it’s a proper theatre and for me it was like walking into The Maly Theatre in Moscow. It was packed – as everyone came out of the cold in Moscow coats and hats and were talking animatedly in Russian.
I’ve always shied away from reading Lolita and I don’t think you could easily write such a book today. But I’d seen one of the actor’s work before and I thought I’ll know all about the book if I go, plus it sounded Nabokov authentic as it was in Russian with subtitles.
And what can I say? It was riveting. It felt 100 per cent real in Russian and the director, staging and actors could have come straight from the Maly. Indeed, it should be on the Maly stage. Viktor Sobchak’s adapted play of Lolita is marvellous. Oleg Hill played the obsessed, lustful Humbert with great charm. I almost liked him! Yana Lyapunova gave Lolita the verve, humour and sheer fun of teenage girls and their teenage kicks but made it unique. She conveyed sexual curiosity and the unknowing power of her innocence and the more knowing power of losing that innocence perfectly.
Brighton is a cosmopolitan welcoming city and I welcome that
Elena Knight in dual roles as Lolita’s mum and the schoolteacher was needy when needed, and vulnerable when called for. It would be easy to create an over the top, desperate to have Humbert herself mum, but Elena gave us the perfect balance of sexiness and normal motherly love. Aleksey Averkin played Lolita’s real love interests – her drama teacher and her husband Rob – and you could easily see why Lolita fell for him! Ryanski Goslingovich he could be named!
Many have seen Nabokov’s book as a love story. And the play ( and I imagine the book ) cleverly “probes the audience’s creepy turn ons” as Roger Ebert said about Adrian Lyne’s Lolita movie. We shouldn’t fancy Lolita but the book/play almost provokes us into that, trying to turn it into a story of obsessive love rather than rape, paedophilia and murder.
But to me it was the latter. A perfect portrayal of a self justifying abuser, rapist and murderer that sadly we’ve seen too much of in real life.
I’m glad I went. I can talk knowledgeably about Nabokov without reading the book, and I got to discover one of the hidden gems of Brighton and meet and later eat, drink and have lots of fun with my new Russian friends!
Brighton is a cosmopolitan welcoming city and I welcome that.