“Lilo” is appearing as secretary Karen in “Speed-the-Plow”, David Mamet’s three-act play satirising the US movie business, running at the Playhouse Theatre until November 29.
The 28-year-old former Disney actress has recently moved from New York to a flat in London, calling the British capital a more “adult” city.
She has had to instil some self-discipline to deal with the rigours of the London stage, contrary to commentators who deemed her out of control.
The play helps counter “the perception that I’m just a psycho that goes out and stuff”, she told Time Out magazine.
“I think it shows that I can be accountable.
“I’ve done things, but people grow up and they change. I’m willing to work hard to gain back the respect that I once had and have lost.”
Although she won praise for her performance as a teen in the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” she has since become better known for her drug problems, rehab visits, legal woes and lively social life. She has been in and out of court on a regular basis since 2007.
Before curtain up at the Playhouse, theatregoers took pictures of themselves in front of the posters, which feature a tight close-up of Lohan.
“I want her to be really good. I want her to prove all her critics wrong,” said Matthew Nichols, 33, from Manchester in northwest England.
“It’s been brave for her to do it because she’s never done any theatre work and obviously London is the theatre capital of the world,” he said.
“I know what it is to be bad”
Doubtless aware of the gamble, Lohan has plumped for a play where she is not in the lead role, even if she is the star attraction.
On stage, she is flanked by two old hands who set the pace.
Emmy Award winner Richard Schiff played White House communications director Toby Ziegler in “The West Wing”.
Meanwhile British theatre veteran Nigel Lindsay starred as Shrek in “Shrek the Musical” in the West End and Islamist convert Barry in the 2010 dark comedy film “Four Lions”.
As a sexy secretary, Lohan convincingly embodies the role which seems tailor-made when her character says: “I know what it is to be bad. I’ve been bad. I know what it is to be lost.”
And there have been encouraging reviews from the London theatre critics, who are reputed for their sharp tongues.
“The doomsayers, the mockers and those quick to bitch on Twitter can go hang,” said The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Lohan “made her stage debut with a surprising — and smouldering — degree of style.”
The West End Whinger blog said: “People coming to observe a train wreck should stay away”, saying Lohan was “on top of things” and had “clearly got balls” in facing critics waiting for her to fail.
Members of the audience seemed to agree.
“She’s doing all right,” said theatre buff Sergio Leitao.
“I already watched it before, in New York,” with Madonna playing the role of Karen. “This was very good. She can do the character.”
After the show, a crowd of fans waits at the stage door hoping to catch a glimpse of the actress appearing as herself.
Isle Morret, who came especially from Belgium to see Lohan on stage, hopes “Speed-the-Plow” will be a fresh start for the troubled star.
“I hope she stays clean, off the drugs,” she said.
After a lengthy wait, a big black sedan rushes up and Lohan gets in without stopping, offering a brief wave to her fans on the way.
“My dream came true,” Morret said. (AFP)