Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Modern Iran
A new play written and directed by Sarah Chew
The Omnibus Theatre, Clapham, London
Seen March 16th, 2018
Written by Jade Prince
— This will not be a review but more of an experience and a jot down of all my thoughts. I will not take into account the set or anything that will change from production to production. I will be mainly focusing on the script and its content. It seems unfair to publish a review on something which is so early on in its development. —
Beyond Boarders is a mini-season at The Omnibus Theatre which displays work from female theatre writers who all share the same focus of intercultural communication and collaboration. They all aim to raise awareness on the exclusions (both personal and political) faced by different cultures and ethnicities. The sole focus of this mini-season is Britain and the Middle East. Beyond Boarders is made up of five different shows, one of which we got to see.
Part of Beyond Boarders, the script-in-hand performances of ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Modern Iran’ tells the story of Orla who ends up slap bang in the middle of the revolution in Iran. Raising so many questions about the things she witnessed and experienced. A unique new piece of theatre which is half theatre and half drag cabaret. It is also important to note that all of this was inspired by Sarah Chew’s own time in Iran back in 2010.
To say this is a work in progress and the team have been working on it for only two weeks it was pretty spectacular!
The whole concept was heartbreakingly beautiful. Orla, attempting to understand exactly what she saw during her 6 weeks in Iran. A completely different country with completely different laws and more importantly a completely different view on women. The perfect place for a feminist to witness and experience first hand. Witness and experience she sure did.
The script was initially slow and I found it a little uncomfortable how the audience were addressed to start with. Orla is actually telling you, the audience, the story but despite the initial uncomfort, it actually worked so well as the play progressed. If it had been a more intimate venue I would have felt like she was retelling the story in her living room. I would actually have cried then!
It really hit a tender nerve as is was brutal truth. We all know these awful things are happening in the world and more specifically the segregation between male and female in Iran however we as society are never given the full truth. It is always exaggerated or censored. One extreme to another. It was definitely something else hearing a first person encounter. It was wonderful but at the same time hard to swallow.
The music choice was so fitting. It really helped move the story along but at the same time the background music added that extra element of emotion which did actually cause me to tear up towards the end. The combination of the way the audience were addressed, the content being spoken and the music. It is incredible how a bit of music can have such a drastic impact on dialogue and the overall emotion.
One thing I wasn’t too sure about was the nudity. I don’t feel it was needed but then on the other hand it definitely shocked me. I had become so accustomed to seeing two beautiful women on stage that I had completely forgotten one was male. This was down to the fact the drag make-up was natural and not of the typical drag style. I did admire the way that this showed that gender was irrelevant and that we are all equal.
I did really like how Mark was utilised in helping to retell Orla’s story. Switching from character to character as they appeared and in my eyes providing that comic relief in such a hard hitting play.
This is a real political statement.
I will definitely be seeing this play again when it is next in London after further development. It is definitely a unique piece highlighting key issues faced in the world currently.