REVIEW: INVITATION TO A BEHEADING The Lion and Unicorn Theatre Kentish Town

PUBLISHED: 13:50 30 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:16 07 September 2010

Three star rating Act Provocateur, Victor Sobchek s production group, prides itself on being an international company. But Vladimir Nabokov s play is not the easiest to follow and

REVIEW: INVITATION TO A BEHEADING

The Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Kentish Town

three star rating

Act Provocateur, Victor Sobchek's production group, prides itself on being an international company.

But Vladimir Nabokov's play is not the easiest to follow and the director puts an obstacle in the way by having the first few vital lines spoken by an actor with a foreign accent so strong that it is difficult for the audience to pick up on what he's saying.

This sets the play off on the wrong foot and the laughs - of which there are plenty - are slow in coming.

The accent of this actor takes some time to tune into but, when one does, it is certainly worth it. It's just a shame that it creates such a slow start to the proceedings.

Cincinnatus is in jail, awaiting execution for a crime he knows nothing about. Neither, it seems, do any of the people surrounding him.

They are all jolly, enjoying his predicament as if it were some kind of joke, or maybe a game, where everybody knows the rules except him.

He is resigned to his fate. All he wants to know is when the execution is going to take place. But no-one is about to tell him, treating it as a childish question not worthy of a reply.

It is the well-known theme of the outsider, the one who doesn't fit in, cannot tell reality from fantasy, believing everyone else is having a great party to which he is not invited.

This nightmare is played out in front of him involving, among others, his oversexed wife, his jovial defence counsel, a Lolita-style little girl and the friends who visit him and look forward to his execution with real excitement.

George Xander is particularly good at playing this hangdog kind of role. His whole body expresses bewilderment and confusion.

While George Sallis is exceptional as Pierre, conman and joker, who does appalling magic tricks and wins games of chess by applying his own rules.

Daren-Luc Kelly plays the disgusting Rodion disgustingly.

All in all, a fascinating play - once you get the hang of it!

Until August 3.

Aline Waites

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