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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 13:38 GMT
Friel's bus depot debut
Oliver Milburn and Anna Friel (Photo by Ivan Kyncl)
Oliver Milburn falls under the spell of Anna Friel
Anna Friel has won mixed reviews for her West End debut playing the racy role of prostitute Lulu.

The former Brookside actress plays the femme fatale title character in the Frank Wedekind play.

The play about the seedy underbelly of 19th century society was aptly performed in the Almeida's temporary performance space - a disused coach depot at Kings Cross.

Lulu is a young woman who passes from Berlin and Parisian high society to the grim streets of London.

Banned

Every character she meets falls under her spell and are ultimately destroyed.

But she lands back into prostitution, before falling into the clutches of Jack the Ripper.

Lulu's opening night had to be postponed after Friel suffered a leg injury during rehearsals.

This is the first time the entire play has been performed in Britain.

It was banned in Germany and then split into two separate plays, Earth-Spirit and Pandora's Box.

Disappointment

Not all have been dazzled by the Almeida's working of Lulu.

Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph writes: "For once that fine director Jonathan Kent has failed to come up with interesting ideas and strong drama, and Friel is a terrible disappointment."

Benedict Nightingale of The Times was more enthralled by the production.

He said: "Thanks largely to (Nicholas) Wright's hefty cuts, Jonathan Kent's production ensures that the evening maintains pace and tension."

Friel, 24, shot to fame following her on-screen lesbian kiss in the soap Brookside.

After quitting, she went on to critical acclaim on Broadway in Patrick Marber's Closer.

Her film roles include Mad Cows, Landgirls and Rogue Trader.

See also:

22 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Stars back the Rogue Trader
10 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Homeless theatre pulls in at bus depot
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