I am lucky to be on the brink of 22 while admiring the exquisite projections in Manuel Cinema's Lula del Ray as part of the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theatre. The work made me nostalgic for my not-so-special middle school years, thanks to the old-fashioned overhead projectors the company uses to tell the story of this innocent, young girl, Lula who runs away from home in search of a band that represents a world beyond her own. Her journey ultimately introduces her to a world of “danger, deception, and disappointment.”
Although the performance was not inspired by the song writer Lana Del Rey (you may know her as Lizzy Grant??), specifically her song "1949", or Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, there is a connection between these 3 works of art. All three tell a story of an infamous road trip where there is seduction and disillusionment if not sin. Lana Del Rey literally quotes Lolita throughout her hundreds of songs, making it difficult to think of one without thinking of the other. “1949” follows the mystical curiosity that grows in a girl just moments before she becomes a woman.
Lolita, published in 1955, reveals the perverted obsession of Humbert-Humbert with his prepubescent step-daughter, Dolores Haze. H.H. kidnaps Dolores, also famously known as Lolita, and takes her on a road trip across the U.S. Lana Del Rey's song "1949" is the exciting, adventurous side of this terrifying, tragic American Classic. Lula Del Rey evokes both sides at once.
After seeing this enticing, avant-garde production, I feel haunted by these perpetual and reoccurring themes of getting older and loss of innocence, and feeling fear in the presence of danger. As a 22-year-old woman, Inostalgic for those not-so-special middle school years, thanks to the old-fashioned projectors telling the story of Lula Del Rey.