Lulu (Gate Theatre) 12 July

**

Poster image

Another case of misguided naturalism, I think.  I spent the first half feeling extremely bored, because the production just wasn’t working for me–surely it should be large-scale, over-the-top, extravagant, undercut by the occasional cynical aside.  Wedekind’s original is after all set in a circus, which admittedly would be difficult to replicate in your archetypal room-above-a-pub.  In addition, lack of space meant that Schwartz (Michael Colgan) had to more or less climb over Lulu (Sinead Matthews) when they changed places to exchange repartee; you tend to think that could be a bit hazardous with such a femme fatale…But there were a couple of decent jokes (which I’ve now forgotten) and I decided to stay for the second half.

The beginning of the second half was quite successful, with Schoning (Sean Campion) and Lulu bored and resentful of each other, like Lolita and Humbert Humbert.  Countess Geschwitz was played by an unnamed understudy ‘script-in-hand’, which turned out to mean she had the script tucked under her arm with her part highlighted, and she referred to it from time to time.  You could say that this was quite appropriate since Lulu refers to her as ‘crippled’, but on the other hand you could also say that Geschwitz is the one positive character, who loves Lulu and gets nothing save abuse in return, so it’s a pity if her performance is….handicapped.

The end, where Lulu’s degraded state of a London streetwalker leads to a fatal encounter with Jack the Ripper would have done well as a naturalistic treatment of the evils of prostitution (in the spirit of the image above), but again this seemed out of place to me.

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