Thursday, 13 February 2003

The Three Interiors of Lola Strong by Caroline Lee, Feb 13, 2003

The Three Interiors of Lola Strong by Caroline Lee  
 fortyfivedownstairs, Feb 13 to March 2, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There is a quiet intensity in The Three Interiors of Lola Strong. It is a quality that emanates from actor-write, Caroline Lee in all her work. Her performance is compelling.

Lee portrays Lola Strong, an ambitious, risk-taking Australian architect of Italian background. We follow Lola through her several ( in fact five) interiors. All are constructed within the long,  narrow fortyfivedownstairs space. Each is the site of a new episode in Lola's disintegrating inner life.

At the opening, she greets us from a odium in the foyer with a speech launching her totally glass office building. Lola is confident, potent, invincible. This cannot, of course, last long.

In her second space, she is perched on her white porcelain bathtub dangling her white porcelain legs in the water. Slowly, in the cool, blue-lit water, she describes her bathroom, her scattered memories. When she reads a letter telling of her mother's death in Italy, she slides inevitably under the bath water. She is steeped in her shock and emotion by now.

The odd thing is that there is little palpable sense of grief or pain in this performance. The dense, often poetic prose, washes over us at times unheard. Lola is a different woman to us now .She is vulnerable and alone.

We trail after her to a large, open white and starkly lit space. We are in sunny Calabria to visit Carlo, Lola's brother. He berates her for missing their mother's funeral. She did not know, she pleads. How is this possible, we wonder.

Lola's sense of self is visibly shattering. We settle on camp-stools in the final room surrounded by enormous canvases of red desert sand and azure sky. Here, Lola is confronted with the grotesque impracticality and inappropriateness of her design for a courthouse in the desert. At last she faces the reality of her environment and accommodates it in her new bulding.

Anna Tregloan's  design is cheeky and takes advantage of the tiny spaces. Each is unobtrusively and evocatively lit by Paul Jackson. Roger Alsop's  subtle soundscape filters in and out of our consciousness, as it should.

If I have any quibbles they pertain to there being too many words at times. My other concern is that the many threads of of Lola's inner disintegration and reconstruction are not fully developed. There is no attention to the grief or loss. We are left unmoved by her story.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment