Lulu is about a wild young woman who is very attractive, but abused and lost. Her attraction is both her greatest strength and her biggest problem. Her past is murky and deprived; her father is cruel and vindictive, so she finds herself at a very young age alone in the world, not knowing who to trust or how to be a woman.
Lizzie Stanton is masterful as Lulu – and beautiful – but her sexual power games betray the teenager who was not allowed to experiment as she grew up. She can be mean, and manipulative as well as manipulated, but that “crazy thing called love” has always eluded her.
The first half of the play features an aggressive, arrogant, older newspaper editor, who's well-acted by Samuel Dutton; a fairly innocent young photographer, played by Matthew Davies; and Lulu's father, acted by Gordon Foggo. As the characters interact, the drama is compelling, and by the end of it Jean Paul Sartre’s “No Way Out” sprang to mind. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen in the second half of the play; I only knew things were dark, and about to get darker.
Unfortunately, for me, that second half was a disappointment. My issue here is with the script, not the production. Characters are each of a type. Lulu herself did still stand head and shoulders above them, as did her father, whom I would not want to meet down a dark alleyway.
Lulu explores themes of sex, fame, media cover-ups, possession, modelling, the negative impact of poor parenting… and above all, how to be a woman. It's challenging to watch because it epitomises a society, particularly here in Brighton, where sex and human life are cheap, young people are exploited and there is no hope for humanity. In many ways, I yearned for redemption – but sadly, there was none.