Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran
Omnibus Theatre, London
Reviewed by Jade Prince
Seen March 10th, 2019
I can review it this time round! In March 2018, I was invited to see a script-in-hand performance of ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran‘. It was in its very early stages but even at that point it was well established. A year later, we got to see the development.
To give you an overview, ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran‘ tells Orla’s (Siobhan O’Kelly) story. A heartbreakingly beautiful account of her 6 week trip to Iran in 2010 told upon a Soho club stage in the present day. A story of a completely different country with completely different laws and, more importantly, a completely different view on women. Where control on its people, cultural practices and the arts is valued above anything else.
The show is set up with a dual aspect; two stories intertwining with each other. One part consists of the scenes that played out on Orla’s trip to Iran. The second part taking place on a Soho club’s opening night. Although I really enjoyed this dual story aspect, I couldn’t help but feel it was very confusing at some points. The whole staging of the show has undergone major development however the subtle light changes didn’t send a strong enough signal of a scene change to the audience. There are parts of the script that change very suddenly and myself, as an audience member, started focusing on where we were instead of the powerful words being said.
The script itself was a little slow and took its time to build momentum. You really need to hang in there because the message it conveys is so powerful. Some of the monologues really put the brutal truth into perspective. Highlighting the awful things that still occur in this world but also still provide that glimmer of hope.
I applaud Sam Wilde and Elizabeth Harper for the set design. Simple yet in keeping with the story. Something I loved about the script-in-hand performance was the intimacy. I mentioned that it was like being told the story in someones living room. This time it was the complete opposite. But it kinda worked. The cabaret club set still felt intimate but gave the impression of a grander establishment. It did detract from the intimacy however it gave the performance more authenticity.
Dotted throughout the show are some small cabaret numbers performed by Mark (Nathan Kelly). It is only fitting to have a few cabaret numbers in a Soho drag cabaret club! It’s what you’d expect although they were so cleverly worked into the story. A seamless transition from London to Iran and vice versa bringing a constant reminder of the art that would face corporal punishment in one of those countries.
Reading back over my post from a year ago, I still hold all those views.
Something is telling me this show will go far. It’s still got some work however the foundations are there and I am all for supporting this!
The show is a political statement and it hits some tender nerves.
Definitely worth seeing and having on your radar.
‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran’ is at the Omnibus Theatre until March 24th 2019. Tickets and more information on the show can be found here.