theSpace on the Mile
In the wake of operation Yewtree and the uncovering of paedophilic activities at the hands of several high profile celebrities, there have been many calls to take stronger action and widen the scope of the remit to which the police may work.
Project Lolita takes that concept and runs it to a not so improbable result. Set in the plausiblly close year of 2020, it tells the story of precocious fourteen-year-old Katie and her middle-aged Facebook friend Joe. Joe is an ex-teacher, languishing in unemployment, occasionally tutoring Katie in the finer points of Romeo and Juliet and moaning about life in general. But as is revealed in a series of Skype conversations with a mysterious man named 'V', Katie is more than she seems.
It's a good concept, staged in a simple but effective manner. Katie sits on her bed, whilst Joe lounges in a chair beside her, each hammering on iPads or talking directly as if through Skype calls. Meanwhile V appears on a screen behind Katie, an omnipresent figure of fate driving the actions towards a difficult and inevitable confrontation.
Charlotte Blake's Katie is the standout amongst the cast, playing a role on multiple levels and carrying the emotional weight of the piece. Moj Taylor contrastingly is a more subdued figure in Joe, fed-up with the world and bitter about the hands fate has dealt him. Farhan Khan is the only cast member who feels short-changed by the piece, as his role is largely perfunctionary with no few opportunities to shine in a script that doesn't really need a third wheel.
The play is a clever take on the concepts of justice and presumption of guilt, as well as on the difficulties of burgeoning sexuality, teenage crushes and middle-aged loneliness. There aren't any clear or right answers here; no-one and everyone is at fault. Given the difficulty and charged nature of the subject, it's a brave script that never condescends or goes for an easy out.
The only crib would be at a slightly repetitous nature to much of the dialogue, which is realistic enough, but holds it back from ever-true greatness.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan