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Theater Review: Not Much Sex or Power in 'Mlle. God'

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John Nielsen and Annika Marks in Mlle. God | Photo: Patricia Williams
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Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA’s world premiere production of Mlle. God is being billed as a sexual "dark comedy." Unfortunately the play, written by Oscar-nominated writer Nicholas Kazan (Reversal of Fortune, Enough), isn't quite dark or funny enough. And the sex and power struggles that underlie the play are also a little lacking in the oomph department. Kazan has updated German Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays, for the 21st century. Like other German playwrights of his time, Wedekind addressed themes of repressed sexuality and the fallen woman. (Audiences may be a little more familiar with Wedekind's Spring Awakening.)

However, when Lulu was introduced to German society in Erdgeist (1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (1904), the plays were highly controversial, touching on taboo subjects like lesbianism, violence and sexual power struggles. Now while Mlle. God does have its merits—great design and sound, especially—by comparison, this version is a bit timid (actually flaccid might be a more apt descriptor). It doesn't go far enough to shock or awe us—or at least make us think about the subjects at hand.