Review: 3*** Lipstick – Southwark Playhouse @swkplay

Tweetingit: 3* Two girls play schoolboys with a different perception of what it’s like to feel different. An intelligent, well observed play raised by some outstanding acting.

In a world where sexual identity is nothing more than a routine conversation piece, Lipstick is hardly breaking new territory. It does however provide a showcase for two outstanding young actors in April Hughes and Helen Aluko. They give substance to a feather light plot and routine script that would have been much poorer without their respective performances.

Tommy (April Hughes) is a boy that likes to wear lipstick, foundation and eye shadow if he can get hold of them. Next door neighbour and class mate Jordan (Helen Aluko) lives with warring parents on the verge of separation. Jordan is a boy’s boy, he plays football and all the girls fancy him (or so he thinks). Yet he is gradually drawn to the sickly and vulnerable Tommy; they momentarily cut loose at a nightclub as they sing I wanna dance with somebody. But what does this mean to them personally. Are they just experimenting or truly finding themselves. How do they feel about each other; is this a friendship, bromance or something much deeper and passionate? There is a curious juxtaposition between what they want and what they need from each other; a geography field trip to Cornwall may well provide the answer.

Lipstick works primarily because of Hughes and Aluko; while the dialogue feels clunky on occasion they provide real edge to the characters they portray.

The predictability of plotting slowly gives way to some highly charged exchanges; particularly from April Hughes who delivers a gut wrenchingly good performance as Tommy.

The play makes its point well enough, but doesn’t really develop beyond the point of two young people exploring their sexuality. Tommy and Jordan have reached a turning point in their lives, but lack the maturity to comprehend their feelings let alone derive any pleasure from them. Nonetheless Lipstick is a play that broadly hits the mark thanks to two very good actors.

Author: Lily Shahmoon

Director: Ed White

Producer: Rupert Henderson Productions

Box Office: 0207 407 0234

Booking Link: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/lipstick/

Booking Until: 28 March 2020

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