About the He Said, He Said reviewers: Stewart Borden is film and theatre musician, culinary artist and bassist for Men In Suits. Raymond Helkio is a film and theatre director living on the edge of insanity.  

He Said, He Said

STEWART SAYS: It’s the Rhubarb Festival rolled-up into one play. The Rhubarb Festival is Buddies In Bad Times Theatre’s two week queer-themed experimental theatre which gather a wide variety of great works, wildly experimental plays, performances I don’t quite understand, and other experiences that I wouldn’t recommend to my mum.

RAYMOND SAYS: At three hours in length, I knew we were in for a marathon but the quick-paced dialogue and clever blocking kept things moving. An absurdist metatheatrical play about the relationship between LULU, the young femme fatale who fucks her way across Europe. Each of her conquests end up dead, until she meets her end at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Based on German playwright Frank Wedekind’s 1894 play, LULU V.7 invites audiences into an absurdly beautiful and wildly twisted world of love, sex, art and death. Surreal scenography, sublime movement choreography and imaginative costuming combine to create a world that was as vibrant as it was dark and foreboding. The storyline is a creative deconstruction of the text which allows for a deeper connection to the characters as we experience different aspects of the same character. 

STEWART SAYS: While I tried to understand it all, I eventually just let myself be entertained. There was so much original creativity packed into one night. To give you a taste: the close close-up live projection of lips, the combined use of auto-tune and live vocal looping, the literally deconstructed stage, four hundred pages of a scrip being slowly thrown on stage, and then leaf-blown away, the soundscaping (including hints of Laurie Anderson’s Superman), the clown projected onto the clown, even the occasional flashes of the script going by as the lines are being said simultaneously, all had a magical effect.

RAYMOND SAYS: Like Shakespeare, LULU packs in layers of meaning, double entendres and metaphors in every scene and like a Shakespeare play, you don’t have to pick-up on every nuance to understand the storyline. On the surface, LULU delivers a complex world, yet the characters are paired down to their most basic instincts, giving them a refreshing, hedonistic approach to relationship.

STEWART SAYS: Memorable highlights included Richard Lam’s monologue on dating apps and dick picks, Valerie Buhaghar’s casino matron, Sky Gilbert’s (yes, that Sky Gilbert) dirty old man, Kadijah Roberts-Abdulla’s octopus (dildo?), and Christopher Morris’ nude jester. After watching actors, any actors, for three hours, you develop a certain bond with them, whether you liked their lines or not. I certainly felt this kinship. The entire cast gets nude, sometime several times, and these scenes work – sometimes nude scenes can be too distracting, I think a less daring director would have cut several scenes and had much less narration, but then there goes the experimentation!

RAYMOND SAYS: As the video and camera work brought me further into this crazy world, I felt submerged in the lives of these people on stage. Highlights include; the entangled actors wriggling on the floor in a hedonistic collective struggle, Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah mesmerizing stage presence, brilliant soundscaping, and then, of course, there was Santa, a reference to the McArthur killings which had the effect of reflecting back the absurdity of the state of our culture. As we collectively continue to point out what ‘normal’ looks like as a way of distancing ourselves from the insanity around us we ignore the more disturbing truth that, at our core, we much more like these characters than any version of ‘normal’ that we have dreamt up to date.

STEWART SAYS: Would I recommend you see it? To seasoned experimental theatergoers, a definite yes, there is plenty to see and experience but for friends and family, I’m not so sure.

RAYMOND SAYS: It’s worth the price of admission just to see Sky Gilbert, the queen of dirty old men, cast as a dirty old man but I would recommend it because LULU provides an experience that moves beyond the stage and into a saucy mix of total gayness. Definitely, bring your mom.

Photos of Craig Pike (top), Valerie Buhagiar, Rose Tuong, Christopher Morris, Craig Pike (second), Sky Gilbert (third) by Jeremy Mimnagh.

LULU v.7
MAY 1 – 20, 2018
Buddies In Bad Time Theatre