Lola: The Life of Lola Montez Review

Submitted by faysie1 on Tue, 11 Aug '09 3.31am
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Trestle Touring in collaboration with Increpacion Danza
Emily Gray (Director), Esther Richardson (Dramaturg), Ricardo Garcia (Musical Director & Composer)
Goegina Roberts (Lola), Fiona Putnam (Eliza), Ricardo Garcia (Lola's Muse), Frederic Gomez (Lolita)
Running time

Despite the fact that I barely know enough Spanish to order a drink – well, okay, ‘Dos cervezas, por favor’ – I seem to be very keen on shows with a Spanish theme. Maybe it’s the castanets, or a secret yearning to wear a mantilla, but I’m irresistibly drawn to things in the Fringe programme that promise a brush with Flamenco.

And so it was with Lola: The Life of Lola Montez, described as the true story of an infamous 19th century Spanish dancer  - except that she was neither Spanish nor a dancer.

Lola was in fact born Eliza Rosanna Gilbert in 1821, in County Sligo in Ireland.  Hop forward a couple of decades, however, and we find Eliza reinvented as Lola and wreaking havoc amongst the European hoi polloi, and being fêted as a celebrity in a way that we would find instantly recognisable today – the phrase ‘what Lola wants, Lola gets’ was reputedly coined for Ms Montes – let’s see if Jordan gets her own catchphrase . . . .

Lola clearly had a very fascinating and action packed life – her affair with King Ludwig of Bavaria resulted in a revolution which forced him to abdicate and her to flee the country – and therein, I think, lies the rub.  There’s just an awful lot of life to pack into a 60-minute show, and whilst both the script and performances are well executed, I certainly felt a bit breathless from time to time.

The script pulls up a number of key incidents in Lola’s colourful life, including her journey to Spain and her relationships with King Ludwig and Franz Liszt, but doesn’t have time to go into much detail, which can leave you feeling somewhat lost.

All that aside, the energy of the performances made this a really enjoyable piece.  Georgina Roberts, playing Lola, can deliver a saucy one-liner with aplomb, and improvises her way very neatly through the unexpected.  Fiona Putnam, who plays a range of characters, from Eliza’s mother to Ludwig and Liszt, whilst less physical that Lola, does a great job of providing the foils to Lola’s adventures.

And whilst both female leads do dance, the real fancy footwork comes from Frederic Gómez, who plays Lolita, and provides some wonderful flamenco dancing, to the beautiful accompaniment of Ricardo Garcia’s guitar.

All in all Lola ticked a lot of boxes for me – dance, drama, a fantastically interesting heroine and beautiful flamenco guitar – and there were even castanets!

Times: Until 30 August (not 17 & 24 August), 6.45pm

© Faye Gibb