Critic's PickI was pretty jazzed when I read that Four Humors Theater from Minneapolis was returning to Cincinnati Fringe for the sixth time. I was even more excited to read that they would be presenting Lolita as “a one hour stage play, based on the two and a half hour movie by Stanley Kubrick, based on the five hour screenplay by Vladimir Nabokov, based on the 300 page novel by Vladimir Nabokov, as told by 3 idiots.”
First things first: Lolita, a controversial novel about narrator Humbert Humbert’s sexual obsession with the 12-year old Dolores Haze (aka Lolita), was written in English by Russian author Nabokov and published and then banned in the U.K. and France in 1955. It became a huge critical and popular success in the U.S., despite its difficult subject matter.
Thus Lolita is not the first source material that comes to mind as fodder for Four Humors. Known for creating uplifting and charming physical comedy, their tagline is “We make the beautiful foolish and the foolish beautiful.” Bombus and Berylline, their 2012 Fringe show, won Critic’s Pick of the Fringe for its sweet, family-friendly tale about a bee and a hummingbird
Yet in the exceptionally talented hands of Ryan Lear, Brant Miller and Matt Spring, Four Humors’ Lolita achieves three remarkable things: It honors the source material; it let’s us know that the revered plot is downright horrifying; and it is side-splittingly hilarious from start to finish. It is easily my favorite show of the Fringe so far.
From the moment the lights come up on Ryan Lear’s Humbert Humbert painting Brant Miller’s Lolita toes, while Matt Spring’s Clare Quilty looks on, to the last edifying line, the Four Humors create hilarious tableaus: Lolita in a bikini and trademark heart-shaped sunglasses, mother Charlotte trying on French, and the “family” at the drive in. The three actors are equally strong and a pure delight to watch. The soundtrack is perfect. Who knew there were so many popular songs dedicated to the problem of little girls?
About Lolita: A three man show, I agree wholeheartedly with the immortal words of Humbert Humbert via Nabokov (by way of three idiots): “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” So get your tickets now. And spread the word.
PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: 8:30 p.m. Monday, 7:15 p.m. Wednesday and 5 p.m. Saturday at Know Theatre. Find more of CityBeat's ongoing 2013 Cincy Fringe Festival coverage, including performance reviews, commentary and venue details, here.