Written by Susanna Fournier, directed by Ted Witzel. Until May 20th at Buddies in Bad Times, 12 ALEXANDER ST, http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/ or 416-975-8555.
“I’ve been destroying men since way before #MeToo” croons the titular LuLu. She’s the blood soaked clown doing a silly jig centre stage. Her dead eyes and painted smile leave no question of who’s going to be getting the last laugh. Spoiler alert; it’s not the white dude who features on the promotional artwork.
Our young ingénue living in Berlin. Round the eighteen hundreds. Dusty apartments, rats, syphilis. Most men in life see her as crease on legs. Sex slave since the age of 13.
Some slimy John crosses a line. Wounds of the heart always cut deepest. Lulu commits a brutal homicide in retaliation. Can’t say he didn’t have it coming. If it’s a man’s world LuLu didn’t get the message.
Stormy Daniels meets Kill Bill. A classical twist on our current times, as powerful men get their just deserts from the women they abused in the workplace. But instead of letters of resignation LuLu collects stocks, and ill gotten bonds.
The hypothetical film version of LULU V.7 would be staring Angelina Jolie and feature a lot of kick ass fight scenes. Instead we are treated to a first half that plods along at the pace of an old German playwright who is no longer is relevant. Stark contrast to the present, earnest performances and monologues. The ensemble so willingly get naked for us, in every sense of the word. Traumatic scenes demanding that you respond.
Albeit not always clear what’s happening; the script is heavy in Germanic, Caucasian code. Within the first five minutes there’s a reference to Moulin Rouge for God’s sake.
Then act two happens. With the urgency of a vaginal tear. No doubt some continuation of the plot is there, but honestly all of that falls to the wayside. Felt like an hour and change of a rough draft. Which is the biggest compliment I could give.
Director Ted Witzel’s interpretation of the source material takes a radical shift. The second act is more post-modern in its approach to storytelling. Less about words and structure, and more about flow. At a point of peak awesomeness the script itself is even projected on stage. Below is utter chaos as the bodies writhe in some sick EDM filled exorcism.
Some shit happens here, some more shit happens there. Performers stop being characters. We are hit with fleeting vignettes of raw sexuality. A choreography of bodies in motion and decay.
Of a cunt that’s done smiling and started biting back.
There’s something conveyed in wrinkled balls and sagging tits that Aristotle himself missed.
LuLu gets older, and in her early twenties is already considered “old” for her line of work. What is a woman’s value? Actress Rose Tuong asks that of every man in the room. Don’t be fooled by her demeanour gentlemen. A wrong answer can mean death.
Wesley Mackenzie is tech wiz. Rare to see such a deep integration of complex sound systems. Coordinated with a lighting design that goes beyond the Matrix. Somehow managed to feel like I was at my friends Indie punk show and at Stratford.
Every time somebody stepped up to the mic it was electrifying. Distortion pedal at the ready. Ready to drop an auto-tuned soliloquy about getting hit with a several dicks. These moments of breaking the fourth wall had me wondering if I wasn’t witnessing something intensely private and intimate.
Despite the actors of colors on stage, it still feels like somebody missed the diversity memo. Fortunately, Khadjah Roberts-Abdullah functions on a higher plane. Her command of the space palpably elevated the quality of the work; v8 needs une femme noir et fatale and half the runtime.
This piece is to be dialogued with, not just watched. Trigger warning, you might be asked to consider the human condition.