The performance is based on the scandalous, often censored text by Frank Wedekind. The original, five-act text had until 1988 stayed in the safe of the inheritors of the writer, who had met with the opposition of publishers and theatre directors. Several times it was accused of promoting obscenity, and one of the editions of the play was destroyed. This is why in the subsequent version the protagonist is not seven years old, but twelve. Several changes are surprising, such as the supposition of the question “are you a virgin” with “do you have soul”. The Polish translation prepared for Michał Borczuch’s performance is our first opportunity to see the original version of the play.
“I imagine a girl who walks in on her hands and collects money by spreading her legs” – this is how a twenty-five-year-old Frank Wedekind reflected on writing a new play. “I imagine that this girl is my daughter”. He writes in his diary: “I wouldn’t punish her, I would just encourage her with a thin rod that I would smear over her abdomen. At midday I was struck with a thought that if my daughter was eighteen or nineteen I would protect her from anaemia etc. by advising her to sometimes take to her room a farm-hand or a servant. Of course, I would provide her with condoms”.
“Lulu” is a consistent and cruel story of love, sex, and death, which actors play casually, moving between idealisation and caricature, repulsive beauty and exciting ugliness. The eponymous hero is forced into prostitution when she is seven years old and goes from hand to hand like a trophy, being increasingly objectified: she is treated like an artwork, an animal, a doll, and finally like a medical object. At the same time, she is constructed as a sexual fetish and deconstructed as a human being. The director reveals not only the falseness of love declarations and the embarrassing and clumsy aspect of eroticism in its every form: from sentimental gestures to the grotesque of fetishist behaviours.
Detachment is the most striking feature of the performance. It purposefully avoids realism, the psychological depth of the characters, or hitting emotional tunes. Instead, it dresses the characters in a grotesque costume. This cold analysis gives rise to reflection. It is more of a quick sketch, curiosity, and openness to adventure than there are definitions, morals, and completing half-tones. The director’s examination of his sinful characters is reminiscent of Wedekind’s wanderings, when roaming the streets of Munich he observed the lives of street girls.