A Dashing Fellow: Perversion, heartbreak and clouds of smoke

До 17 мая идет спектакль по Набокову. И зрителям, и критикам понравилось!

Belka Productions’ adaptation of three dark, sexy short stories by Vladimir Nabokov makes for an intense 90-minute show.

The sound of a steam train, waiting benches full of sleeping travellers, dim lighting, clouds of smoke. When the audience steps into the New Diorama for the Nabokov-inspired play A Dashing Fellow, they find themselves in a 1920s railway terminal. Out of the shadows steps Frau Monde, an incarnation of the devil as an elderly German woman, played with sublimely disturbing panache by Peter Clements. The character is like a cross between Mitzi Del Bra, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Woland (there is even a death-by-tram), and the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub.

There are definite shades of Cabaret in this head-spinning cocktail of stories from Nabokov’s interwar Berlin years. Frau Monde introduces a series of insecure and (largely) repellent characters, each on their own impossible sexual quest. The author’s perennial themes – exile, beauty, horror and the perversity of desire – all dance through these intermingled tales.

Alexey Luzhin, a Russian émigré working as a waiter on a German train, is looking for his lost wife Lena. Petersburg-born Nabokov, having fled revolutionary Russia, wrote the story – A Matter of Chance – in 1924, two years after leaving Cambridge. It is full of heartbreaking coincidences, with husband and wife missing each other by seconds and Lena repeatedly losing her ring.

“You dance in the fields of my dreams almost every night,” sings Luke Courtier as Luzhin. The plangent songs are one of the highlights of the play. With a nasty cocaine habit, a growing list of suicide methods and the voice of an angel, Luzhin’s obsessive passion contrasts with the greedy promiscuity (or would-be promiscuity) of the other male protagonists.

A Nursery Tale is Nabokov’s take on the Russian fairytale and original home of the character of Frau Monde. The Devil scarfs down apple strudel and offers rodent-like Erwin a day to collect his ideal harem, telling him “don’t imagine me with horns and a great big tail.”

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