by Frank Wedekind in a translation and adaptation by Steve Gooch
For the first time since its foundation in 2005, Eclectic Theatre performs a play by a German dramatist: the Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind in a translation and adaptation by Steve Gooch. This tragic-comic masterpiece of decadent theatre is particularly well suited to our own times: Celebrity supermodels, corrupt media barons, sex scandals, and financial collapse. Sound familiar? Lulu herself is an archetypal figure, a childlike femme fatale, onto whom both men and women project their own fantasies. She is both victim and exploiter, as ambivalent in her motives as in her sexuality. The play sheds a critical light on a world in which money and looks are the all-decisive factors.
Dresdener Neueste Nachrichten, 15/03/2013
What’s the matter?
The English-speaking Eclectic Theatre presents Lulu
What is always taken into account in professional theatre companies can be all the more challenging for amateur theatre troupes: A premiere is coming up and one of the main actors gets hurt in a way that makes acting on stage impossible. Exactly this is what happened when the English-speaking Eclectic Theatre invited spectators to see the premiere of Frank Wedekind’s drama Lulu at Theaterhaus Rudi. One of the actresses impersonating Lulu hurt her foot badly, an injury leaving her unable to act. The second act of the play could only be performed with a new actress in a second show on the following night.
However, to classify this mishap as one more of the numerous difficulties faced by the author Wedekind and his heirs when aiming at a production of this drama – which had long been considered scandalous – would surely be an exaggeration. Frank Wedekind already experienced problems when writing the play because its topic called the ever-present army of self-appointed guardians of virtue into action from the very beginning. And all this although prostitution flourished in particular in Germany at the time. The drama Lulu as well as its subsequent operatic version (Alban Berg) had a difficult standing and were always ranked high in the list of uncomfortable dramatic literature.
Eclectic Theatre’s artistic director and director of the production Michael Halstead approached the material with a timeless appearance.
He shows Lulu as the classic femme fatale – which she is indeed – but also points out very clearly that social decline is caused by a number of factors. Lulu (Benedicta Knoblauch/Carole Rivoire) is only too happy to respond to the advances of her first suitor, the Minister of Health Dr. Goll (Claudio Orlacchio), in order to escape a life on the street. In the beginning, the life-affirming young woman does not suspect in the least that she may only be used and handed over from one man to the next. Moreover, it seems to be part of her nature to act rather permissively when it comes to erotic advances. That is because she is fond of physical love, and because she has learned about its advantages already at a young age. Thus, one lover takes over from the last one and soon she ends up in the milieu of whores and pimps. In the end, she is far from being a typical vamp: She has reached the lowest ranks of society and seems almost bound to die. But an often used British saying retains its validity here, too: What’s the matter? Actually, everything is in perfect order. Is it?
Michael Halstead lets his protagonists act in a surrealistic stage set (set and costumes: Marlit Mosler). Inclined movable walls and sparingly furnished rooms form the interior. When Lulu is married to her protégé, the newspaper publisher Dr. Schön (Falk Iser), she could finally be satisfied. She does not realise that it is far too late for that. Eventually, her last customer kills her. The desire for pleasure drives her inevitably to death. An stringently logical finale from today’s perspective.