The Theatreguide.London Review
is an irresistible pull to Frank Wedekind's fable of the irresistibly
sexual woman, and this new production from Headlong and the Gate
captures much of its dark mystery.
(which may or
may not be her name) is a woman defined entirely by her sexual allure,
with such an absence of anything else beyond that that those drawn to
her project their needs onto her, and are attracted by that reflection
rather than by the vacuum behind it.
doting old man
sees her as a pretty toy, a naive artist imagines a fellow virgin, a
debauchee sees his own image in her. And, with no identity of her own,
Lulu does try to be what the others need from her, inevitably
disappointing and destroying them in the process.
adaptation of Wedekind's two Lulu plays intelligently condenses and
focuses the action, though an updating to the present (The Countess is
a photographer, Lulu bops to an I-pod and there are a few scattered
casual obscenities) adds little and may detract from the sense of the
sexually repressed society in which the original is set.
who also directs, cannot fully disguise the fragmented nature
the play, with each episode not really having much to do with the
others, and the order in which they come almost arbitrary. Certainly
the awareness that Lulu's path is downhill and heading inexorably
toward her own destruction (and the sense that this may have been her
unconscious goal from the start) is as unprepared-for as it is in the
or adaptation, the play rises or falls with the actress at its centre.
In the iconic silent film, Louise Brooks captured Lulu's total
blankness and the fact that anything the others saw was their
imagination. Here Sinead Matthews defines the woman by her pure
sexuality. Her Lulu is an animal of the senses, perfectly happy to play
the roles the others cast her in as long as she gets her sensual
pleasure, and instantly uninterested and dismissive once they begin to
- because unpremeditated - egocentricity of the character is both
believable and scary, and it is to the actress's credit that she shows
us Lulu's menace while retaining an odd sort of purity.
The rest of the characters exist to come onstage, be smitten by Lulu, be in ecstasy for a while and then die, giving the actors little opportunity to develop them or make much impression. But special tribute must go to director Ledwich, filling in as Countess Geschwitz after an actress's accident, and giving a fully polished and confident performance.
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- Lulu - Gate 2010