Lulu by Katie Hims

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Lulu by Katie Hims (2000). Dir. Melanie Harris. Perf. Polly Lister, Nicola Millington, Holly Grainger. BBC Radio 4 Extra, 5 Feb. 2015.
BBCiPlayer to 6 Mar. 2015.

Lulu (Holly Grainger) is the tallest girl at school and feels excluded as a result. Although trying her best to relate to the other learners around her, she cannot seem to fit in. The knowledge blights her life - to such an extent that, while growing up, she finds it difficult to enjoy a suitable relationship, even though Austin (David Poyser) is obviously mad keen on her.

She seems to have a dysfunctional family - Mum (Christine Mackay) has moved in with her lover next door, while her Dad (Rob Pickavance) refuses to eat anything, despite the fact that Mum still makes food for him. As time passes, so Lulu's life begins to impact significantly on her development - even when an adult (Polly Lister), she looks back on her adolescent and her younger days, as if unable to forget them.

Structured round a series of flashbacks with overlapping voices from the three Lulus at different ages, Melanie Harris's production emphasized how the past had a malign influence over the present, especially in terms of the central character's emotional and physical development. The play also warned us about the dangers of thinking too much - as a child, Lulu had made a wish that Fate had dictated would come true, leading to the destruction of her family life. Sometimes it's best just to put up with one's physical attributes (and not to think too adversely about them) and try and eke out an existence.

Although the play ended on a note of qualified optimism, as Lulu finally found someone to care for her, we couldn't help but feel that she was someone who needed to think less about the past and look forward to the future, in order to rid herself of her mental burden.

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