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Through a Glass Darkly

Lulu

By • West End
WOS Rating:
Lulu is all things to all men, a fact reflected by her assortment of pet names – 'Mignon', 'Eve', 'Lolly', 'Katya'.

In this Gate/Headlong production, she's a blonde bombshell (Sinead Matthews) with a husky voice and a serious aversion to clothing.

Moving from flat to garret to whorehouse via a succession of obsessional and unsuitable husbands, Wedekind's most famous creation is the ultimate femme fatale, whose gruesome fate at the hands of Jack the Ripper traces its roots back to an abusive childhood and a pathological need to seduce.

Director/adapter Anna Ledwich, who found herself on stage last night covering for the injured Caroline Faber as Countess Geschwitz (another who falls for Lulu's charms), has clearly put her all into this. But unfortunately there's a lack of clarity to her vision that renders it a bit of a tangle.

A rather ramshackle set contains allusions to modernity, though we're never entirely sure which period we're in. There are also some ludicrous touches - a door made from plastic sheeting is supposed to provide a believable barricade to Lulu's enraged first husband, while she cavorts inside with the soon-to-be second.

The overriding sense of befuddlement is not helped by a tonal confusion in the script. One's inclination is to laugh when a desperate lover cries “my balls are like hand grenades”, or when the blood-spattered second husband Schwartz (Michael Colgan) comes back from the dead to sing The Smiths' “I Know It's Over”. But I couldn't evade the disconcerting feeling that the intentions behind such farcical moments are slightly more serious.

Sinead Matthews gives a nice study in self-destruction in the title role, even if she doesn't quite convince as the epitome of man's desire. She's a little lightweight, replacing seductiveness with in-yer-face titillation.

There's able support from Sean Campion as Schoning, Lulu's benefactor and most empathetic lover, and Ledwich gave a sterling second act performance in what can't have been easy circumstances. But overall this Lulu goes down as a bit of a disappointment, considering the creative muscle behind it.


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