RANDOM SIGHTINGS – Lulu at the Pacific Resident Theatre

at the Pacific Resident Theatre

(Backstage West- 1228 words – May 27, 1999) By Polly Warfield

Dandy and Daring Two world-class performances on local stages (at least two; doubtless there are more) should not be missed by any acolyte of the actor’s muse. Hurry to catch both. Leland Crooke’s rendition of the ornery old cuss Dandy, oil multi-millionaire granddad in David Beaird’s semi-autobiographical 900 Oneonta (at the Odyssey through June 27) is not so much a performance as an incarnation. London critics showered the actor with accolades at the play’s world premiere there. “Leland Crooke’s blistering, creak-kneed, wallpaper scraper of a performance dominates the action… Oh, yeah.” (Michael Wright in Time Out). “To take a character as openly misogynistic, racist, and downright evil as Dandy and make him not only funny but attractive is a spectacular feat.” (Nick Curtis in Evening Standard). And so on and on.

PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE – LULU: Valerie Dillman young and a relative newcomer to the stage, proves worthy to hold her head up in any pantheon of actors with her bold, no-holds-barred, ultimately devastating enactment of the title role in the landmark drama Lulu, adapted by Peter Barnes from Frank Wedekind’s two turn-of-the-century classics, Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box. Earlier in this century, film actress Louise Brooks’ free-spirited gamine beauty and ebony patent-leather Dutch boy bob embodied the quintessential Lulu. The blonde Dillman, who looks nothing like Brooks, succeeds, for the duration of this sizzling Pacific Resident Theatre production, in supplanting that earlier image with her own. Dillman poignantly embodies program notes by Martin Esslin, noted theatrical sage and Wedekind expert, who wrote: “Lulu is anything but a femme fatale, or the eternal prostitute. She is the most innocent character in the play, who simply acts with total sincerity in following her own nature. Her naturalness and innocence expose the distortions of bourgeois morality.” Wedekind’s archetypal heroine is both victim and haphazard, careless victimizer. PRT’s program subtitles the play “A Sex Tragedy.” It is stunning ensemble theatre, imaginatively directed by Jessica Kubzansky.

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