by Frank Wedekind, The Palace
… a production notable for its admirable contempt for the surface verisimilitude which its author despised.
A play which breaks through categories to balance somewhere between melodrama and farce, it is directed by Leon Rubin (assisted by Kate Devey) with good bizarre casting – Lulu’s father is a dwarf, her second husband a black, her lesbian lover a woman of impeccable breeding.
… as adapted by Mr. Rubin, this is a fascinating attempt at a play whose hectic flamboyance lies outside the range of most native talent.
Mr. Rubin’s production also gets things right. We tend to think of Lulu, whose spectacular rise and fall we witness, as a heartless whore. In fact, she starts out as an amoral waif and only gradually turns into a ruthless exploiter, pairing off her lesbian and acrobat admirers in order to save her own skin.
The Financial Times
The horrors that befall Lulu and the freaks that surround her can ultimately totter on the verge of parody. Here Leon Rubin’s production pre-empts this by bringing out a streak of zanily inconsequential humour.
The Palace, Watford, have once again marched boldly in where angels and big national companies are afraid to tread. Leon Rubin’s production of Lulu is his adaptation from Peter Tegel’s new translation of Earth Spirit and Pandora’ Box, and it’ll make friends with Frank Wedekind (1864-1918) rather than enemies, which is more that I can say for most British productions I’ve seen.
The problem is the immense complexity of Wekekind’s tone and the abivalence of his moral stance. He once said that he didn’t want his plays to have anything to do with conventional moral matters such as love or loyalty; and yet we can only make sense of the hypnotising amorality of his characters if we consider them as moral creatures in the first place. And this, too, is the reason why Wedekind is so diffcult to play: he’s writing a moral melodrama and a comic, amoral spoof thriller at the same time. And yet his characters are not mere grotesques.
And these things make sense in Rubin’s production.