If this were the 1850’s, chances are you would know the name of Lola Montez. Mary Murphy is captivating in her portrayal of this alluring, crowd pleasing, coquettish, and controversial woman.
Richard Byrne’s script tells how an unassuming Eliza Gilbert from Sligo, Ireland, took advantage of each and any opportunity to stay in the spotlight. With no classical dance training, she created her own performance style and passed herself off as a dancer, an actress, eventually rising to fame through her many paramours and sensual escapades.
In An Evening with Lola Montez, the playwright makes it clear that, to Lola, appearance is “Everything,” and Murphy tells her tale in full flouncy black flamenco style attire accented with a sexy red belt and bodice and a crimson carnation atop her luxurious curls. Murphy has expressions galore and a physical prowess that is breathtaking. She hints and teases about her notorious “Spider Dance” and, in a teasing manner, swirls her arms and strikes a pose, demanding our attention. She teases with such skill and grace that we’re prepped for more. Then suddenly she’s had enough and turns away, leaving the audience to imagine the rest.
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Before “come hither heels,” the sight of a comely calf would be enough to cause grown men to swoon and any provocative siren could call her shots. And Lola Montez did. Skillful direction by DeLisa M. White keeps the piece flowing and the crafty script weaves through the circuitous passages in Lola’s rise to international acclaim. Most infamous for eventually being the consort of King Ludwig of Bavaria, Lola Montez explains how she was even blamed for riots and turmoil in the streets and subsequent revolutions.
An Evening with Lola Montez closes July 27, 2019 at Capital Fringe 2019.
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Murphy explains Lola’s journey with earnest appeal and a jaunty smile, totally aware of Lola’s mesmerizing effects on men while not letting them in on her secret. The script is filled with zingers about dealing with the hubris of men who, Lola whispers conspiratorially, are shorter than they think. Murphy’s delivery in hushed tones and a winking glance is wonderfully effective.
An Evening with Lola Montez explores a colorful character who created her own reality to keep herself in the public’s eye, and sitting for daguerreotypes to assure history’s record of her. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from this talented playwright and performer.
An Evening with Lola Montez by Richard Byrne . Performer: Mary Murphy . Director: DeLisa M. White . Producer/Stage Manager: Laura Schlachtmeyer . Lighting Design: Piper Phillips . Costumer: Lynn Marie Macy. Presented at the Capital Fringe 2019 . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.