Lulu – directed by Shaban Arifi for Theatre Collection – has everything: incest, lesbian action, possession, exploitation, bloody murder, and even love. The delectable German starlet Lulu works her way through husbands and lovers, leaving a wake of broken hearts behind her.
From the moment she walks on draped in a fur stole, Lucia Edwards is mesmerising as the capricious dancer: her soft voice ideal for such a seductive role and deserves ample credit for maintaining the intensity for the two hours.
The second, longer act buzzed compared with a more sedate first half thanks to the addition of some small and unforgettable characters: David Jay-Douglas’ Rodrigo the contortionist and Amanda Kay as Lulu’s lesbian admirer Countess Geswitch – look out for her magnificent eye-patch. Dominic Mills’ rendering of Alwa, son of Lulu’s second husband and later her husband, too, was spectacular and idiosyncratic all at once.
This is proper Henry VIII stuff, except Lulu’s origins are far from blue blooded and all her husbands would have begged for the benign option of divorce. One is reminded of Edith Piaf’s story – a revered performer who despite talent and prominence carries a sad and unchaste story. Except while Piaf worked her way out of the slums, Lulu descends back into the filth from which she was “rescued”.
Written at the turn of the last century, Wedekind’s play is shocking and violent and the Lord Stanley’s small dark space makes for a perfectly claustrophobic environment, especially when teamed with the silk dresses, satin curtains, and clinking champagne glasses. This is a play which gives a real representation of what human relationships, expectations and love are like – most of the times it ends in tears and hurt, selfishness and greed – and I defy anyone not to recognise a bit of themselves somewhere in all that licentiousness.
Until 8th July. The Lord Stanley also happens to have some a great garden, plenty of outdoor seating and a delicious menu.