Lulu | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Lulu, Journeymen, at the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. Director Tonika Todorova's 75-minute adaptation of Frank Wedekind's 1894 "Lulu" dramas (Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box) is a feat of transformation, using stylized pantomime and intelligent histrionics to produce a "black-and-white silent play." Her meticulously monochromatic treatment features projected captions and a virtuosic score by pianist Isaiah Robinson that supports or wryly comments on every stage action.

Looking almost carnivorous in her pancake makeup and dark gray lipstick, Micaela Petro is sensuous mantrap Lulu, announced as the "most untamed beast" in the world's freak show of the first scene. Her cursed career spans Europe and ends at the hands of Jack the Ripper in England, foundering on orgiastic adultery, blackmail, and murder. Preying on both sexes, this vamp successively ensnares a painter, a doctor, his son, a tango dancer, and an ingenue.

Surrounding Lulu is a menagerie of German expressionist caricatures, sleazy in Soo Jung Sung's flapper and gigolo costumes and nightmarish in inspired makeup by Ryan Durling and Katy Jones (they even manage to defy the un-air-conditioned space). Remaining completely in character, the large cast move easily from camp burlesque to mordant seriousness; their deft work peaks in performances by Maximino Arciniega Jr. as the libidinous Valentino-like dancer and by Jeremy Beiler as Lulu's first victim and final nemesis.

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