CirqueNorth WestReview

Lola – The Lowry, Salford

Director: Taina Kopra

Reviewer: Andrea Allen

If you thought a theatre piece exploring dementia would be the last place you’d see an underwear-clad woman wearing a horse mask swinging across a stage performing aerial acrobatics, you need to think again. Placing the experience of dementia under a darkly comic, at times surreal eye, Lumo Company’s Lola is a twisted, surreal journey that if nothing else, provides the unexpected. 

Director Taina Kopra’s exploration of a condition still stigmatised and largely misunderstood is no light undertaking. Performers Hanna Moisala and Angeliki Nikolakaki execute their performances with an enduring dedication and earnestness without which Lola would likely fall completely flat. Themes of isolation, social exclusion and declining mental faculties are explored through physical theatre including tightwire and circus skills as well as jaw-dropping aerial work from Nikolakaki whose grace and athleticism is a standalone show in itself.

A running visual theme of losing balance and struggling to keep control is a clear metaphor for the faltering grasp on ones identity and independence. Slapstick visual comedy is a welcome addition to a topic often shrouded in sincerity and desolation, a reminder that living with dementia isn’t a permanent state of terror, doom and fear. While choreographed and executed with precision, a heavy-handed and unnecessarily overwrought soundscape mars a show which would carry itself better without brash audio cues.

Lumo Company sadly don’t quite punch all the right buttons. Moments presumably intended to portray nightmarish visions don’t land with the harrowing impact that perhaps they should, whilst the use of dark comedy at times emitted belly laughs rather than awkward shuffles. It’s food for thought, beautifully executed, but perhaps a piece tackling something so vast and baffling in itself that it will inevitably fall subject to criticism in some form, but arguably that’s to its credit rather than its detriment.

Reviewed on Thursday 21 November 2019 | Image: Heidi Honkala

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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