Lolita, either the Vladimir Nabokov original or Stanley Kubrick's film, is a transgressive work. After all, it centers on a middle-aged man lusting after a 12- (novel) or 14- (film) old girl, and eventually having an "affair" with her.
Ripe for comedy? If you are in Four Humors, that answer is yes. The company's 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit is back at the Southern over the next month. It is not to be missed.
The core concept is that is Lolita told by a trio of clowns who are not quite hip to all of the implications of the story. Their ramshackle interpretation is loaded with stray observations (including an extensive backstory for one character who has a single line in the film), missed sound cues, and a general sense that it could all fall apart at any moment.
Along the way, the three of them do manage to tell the story. Humbert Humbert (Ryan Lear) comes to live with Charlotte Haze (Matt Spring) and her daughter, nicknamed Lolita (Brant Miller). Humbert is smitten with the young girl, and an affair blossoms after he first marries Charlotte and then she dies in an accident.
The pair head out on a cross-country fling, tailed all the way by a mysterious man (Spring again) who has his own eyes on Lolita.
Part of what makes this version work is that Miller, as you can see by the photo above, in no way resembles the character from the book or the film. That extra bit gives the story a bit of extra distance — and big guys playing women is always comedy gold.
The other key is that while there is a lot of fun to be had with the story — especially the off-kilter performances by the actors — the creators (the trio of performers, along with Nick Ryan and director Jason Ballweber) clearly have a lot of respect for the source material. They understand the distinct creative voices that made the original versions tick, even as they make fun of Lear's attempts at a James-Mason accent or play around with the film's various iconic moments (again, see the picture above).
IF YOU GO:
Four Humors' Lolita: A Three Man Show
Through September 27
1420 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis
$24; or $18 per month ARTShare membership
For tickets and more information, call 612-340-0155 or visit online.