The producers of last year's left-field musical hit Anonymous Society return with the premiere of this piece from Odense International Musikteater. Wedekind's mammoth play is boiled down to an hour and a quarter, with sparse narration from a pianist disconcertingly resembling a blind David A. Stewart and a quarter of singers taking the roles of the fatale Lulu, the besotted Dr Schön, the Countess and so forth.
One naturally expects a Weimaresque cabaret tone to the proceedings, and the opening numbers fall broadly into this vein, but veer further and further away until we find ourselves in lush Thom Bell-style soul territory for the Countess's song of semi-concealed longing for Lulu, and even an outright R&B screaming match as Lulu is sentenced to death for the Doctor's murder – Wedekind and R&B: not a combination that springs readily to mind, but it seems to work.
However, the bleak non-linear power of last year's assemblage of Jacques Brel songs is replaced by a self-consciously decadent narrative approach which pays fewer dividends. One or two of the singers fall into a modern-musical-style delivery from the top of the throat which sits ill with any of the compositional styles, and although the piece is absolutely fine on its own terms, it never quite soars.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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