nytheatre.com review by Maggie Cino
August 15, 2004
Louise Brooks was rediscovered over twenty years ago and the world is still obsessed. Her great role was Lulu in the 1929 film Pandora’s Box, directed by G.W. Pabst, based on plays by Franz Wedekind. She was the first alterna-babe, the first SuicideGirl. And the world is still seduced by her.
Adam Gwon and Courtney Phelps, under the spell of Louise Brooks, have co-written Lulu, an adaptation of the Wedekind plays. They have attempted to turn German Expressionism into musical comedy, with indifferent results. Even at the end, Lulu doesn’t face death at the hands of Jack the Ripper, as in Wedekind's original, but walks away with her lover. She is never in danger, and so we never care.
Brooke Sunny Moriber, who would make a wonderful Marion in The Music Man, is out of her depth as Lulu. In fact, it is hard to tell how much the director came to her aid—there is no character development or emotional arc for anyone. The actors enter from chairs placed in rows facing backwards at the extreme ends of the stage, stand in place, speak or sing, and return. It is either a concert reading or a Brechtian experiment. However, distancing devices are superfluous here, since there's not enough at stake in the play to engender the audience's emotional involvement.
I found the music to be unmemorable and the lyrics somewhat pedestrian (lots or rhyming couplets like "me" and "be" or "heart" and "part").
I am willing to conclude, though, that it is possible that the problem here is too much thought, not too little. A love for the original source material, an obsession with Louise Brooks, and a desire to make new music may have proved overwhelming—I think that perhaps the authors might need the emotional distance they tried so hard to give their audience.