A Dashing Fellow at the New Diorama Theatre
A Dashing Fellow is an adaption of three separate Vladimir Nabokov short stories: A Matter of Chance, A Nursery Tale and A Dashing Fellow, brought together to tell a tale of journeys, exile and longing. Set in Berlin, where Nabokov himself was living in exile during the Russian Revolution, the lives of three individuals – Erwin, a man who is so crippled by his shyness that he is set apart from society, Konstantin, a scheming Russian adulterer of a travelling sales man, and Alexey, a narcotised Russian exile who longs for his wife Lena – perfectly encapsulate the themes and emotions that are constant throughout Nabokov’s novels.
Combining three short stories, taking Nabokov’s own texts, adapting new script and adding music cannot have been an easy feat, but it is done here to perfection. The sense of journey, movement and time are dispersed between magnificent segments of Nabokovian wordplay and prose, which leaves the audience enchanted. The added music is worrying at first, though it gives a “mother Russia” feel to the play, which ties in nicely to Nabokov’s own theme of nostalgia and longing.
The stage is well adapted for the rush of movement as actors utilise scaffolding posts and vintage suitcases in order to produce a multi-purpose moving stage. The cast work well together in exploring dynamism on stage, though at times the acting is a tad bit over dramatic. Still this works perfectly for Peter Clements who plays Frau Monde, the devil in disguise. There is definitely an element of Dr Frank N Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show in his interpretation of the devilish elderly woman. Further entertainment factor is provided by Kate Craggs, Madeleine Knight and Joel Gorf, who transform into a number of hilarious characters in the blink of an eye, and by Edward Cole in his interpretation of main character Erwin. And of course, a Nabokov tale wouldn’t be a Nabokov tale without a hint of longing, which is best portrayed by Luke Courtier, as Alexey, the most desperate of romantics.
This production provides all-round entertainment: Belka Productions do an honest job of paying homage and doing justice to the man who inspired the creation of A Dashing Fellow. Definitely one for the Nabokov fans.
A Dashing Fellow is at the New Diorama Theatre until 17th May 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.