Home » London Theatre Reviews » Lola – presented by Papercut Theatre at the Vault Festival | Review

Lola – presented by Papercut Theatre at the Vault Festival | Review

Lola Cast PhotoLola is an 18-year-old girl with lots of problems. She has a big issue with her voluptuous body and how it affects the boys in her school, she’s full of teenage rage and she’s got an avid “admirer” stalking her – so who can she turn to for help? She doesn’t seem to be getting much advice from home so in her desperation, she turns to two teachers at her school – Jez and Olivia – but is Jez just after her for her body and is Olivia just a feminist trying to radicalise Lola? What’s an 18-year-old to do?

Lola is Hannah Nixon’s debut play and very good it is too. In her convincing, credible dialogue, she’s able to express the confusion and angst that a young girl feels as she transitions from a child into an adult woman. She goes for advice to her two teachers but which one is giving her the best guidance as they’re both uber-manipulative and both seem to have ulterior motives that might not be good for their, young immature pupil. Lola realises this a little late but she’s only 18 and at that age, she doesn’t have all, or maybe, any of the answers. With all the turmoil and confusion raging inside her, she decides to fight back and the result has messy repercussions for everyone concerned.

Nixon’s play consists of a dozen or so individual scenes where we see the plot develop as two of the three characters talk to each other. The only time we see all three in a scene is when we seem to be inside Lola’s dreams – or are they nightmares? Here the atmospheric lighting from Lighting Designer Martha Godfrey and the change of tone, helps although they don’t really develop the storyline and break-up the flow a little. However, Melissa Dunne’s direction of the three actors is on the whole excellent although at times the action is a little static. The other problem is that using a traverse stage with the audience on two sides means that depending on where you’re sitting, you can only see the back of one of the characters. In my case, I seem to have had Lola’s back to me a lot of the time so I was unable to see her face – which in the case of Lola, meant missing quite a lot.

As for the three actors, they were all excellent. Gemma Barnett in the title role was wholly believable and we felt her pain. I just wish the staging could have been better and I’d been able to see more of her facial expressions. Rob Ostlere as the slippery, cunning Jez was perfect and as the play developed, we got to see through his affable exterior. Joanne Ferguson as Olivia took us on a journey from a sensible, helpful figure to one who seemed to have her own agenda and was losing the plot.

Lola in sixty minutes or so, touched upon a number of important issues including gender politics, bullying, body dysmorphia, self-harm and the relationship between a pupil and the people paid to teach and advise her. Hannah Nixon has written a thought-provoking play and I look forward to seeing how her work develops in the future.

4 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

I’ve always known I could do something like this.
Sixty years after Nabokov’s Lolita, meet Lola. She’s eighteen, full of rage and has extremely large breasts. This time our leading lady won’t be silenced.

In her debut play Hannah Nixon explores the feminine form and the prejudices and assumptions that society places on women. With the male gaze acting as a constant din in the background that threatens to overwhelm her, Lola takes drastic action. Lola’s act of violence will leave you asking; what do we do with unwanted attention? What does it feel like to strike back? And why don’t we do it more often?

23rd – 27th January 2019
Age suitability 15+


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