Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran – REVIEW

Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran – REVIEW

Omnibus Theatre, London

★★★★

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.

 

 

An Enemy of the People – REVIEW

An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre, London

★★★

“In a way, it did reflect the current government state perfectly; it seemed so promising yet failed to deliver.”

An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre, London

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Reviewed by Jade Prince

Seen January 16th, 2019

★★★

The Union Theatre has opened their doors up once again to a fabulous series bringing focus on past great writers and their work in relation to today’s issues. The Phil Willmott Company have returned to The Union Theatre for their fourth season of “Essential Classics”. Between the months of January and March 2019, three shows are being presented in such a way that pulls the classic writing into the 21st century. On display is Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrick Ibsen’sAn Enemy of the People’, Offenbach’sCan-Can!’ and William Shakespeare’s classic, ‘Othello’. 

To start the season off, we got to see ‘An Enemy of the People’ which sees the struggle of a small town scientist as he battles the mayor and local community after making a shocking discovery which could significantly impact the future of the town’s current project. It soon becomes clear that despite the town’s people believing the harsh truth of their actions, the ability to stand against the political body of the town is non-existent. Despite Ibsen writing this piece back in 1882, the context remains relatable in today’s political climate, especially in the US with Trumps’ regime. Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrick’s original work was brilliant and also hit the audience hard with the realisation that regardless of the century, the same issues prevail. 

An Enemy of the People definitely delivered the message intended however the lack of professionalism really detracted from the experience. This low budget performance definitely had an impact on how a great play was received by the audience. It was clear it had so much potential. In a way, it did reflect the current government state perfectly; it seemed so promising yet failed to deliver. 

The play definitely got better with time. It gradually built up momentum. This was helped by the passion delivered by David Mildon (Dr. Thomas Stockman) which was compelling to watch. This then reached the pinnacle towards the end of act two where the level of emotion displayed by Mildon was through the roof. I applaud him for the stunning performance. 

Unfortunately, the rest of the show was rather bland. The full package was not there for me. This ranged from the lack of American accents (it appeared that this element was optional for the cast) to the mediocre set design. This really hindered the flow of the play. It was very difficult to distinguish changes in scenes which ultimately slowed the show down. The only way you could identify the scene changes were through the over exaggerated blackouts. It would have been great to see the scenes changes tackled in a different way instead of the simplest solution being selected. 

A lot of thought had been put into setting the scene and this typically came in the form of background noise. It was a very simple addition; birds chirping for when the scenes took place outside and cheering during the debate. It was a nice touch although there were some parts where the background noise was too loud and made it difficult to focus on the scene being played out infront of us. 

The Union theatre is a wonderfully intimate venue where this show could have been right at home however the space was not fully utilised and ended up coming across as very low budget. Overall it was enjoyable but very evident that there was so much more the show could have given to the audience. 

An Enemy of the People is playing at The Union Theatre until 2nd February 2019. For more information and tickets, head to  http://www.uniontheatre.biz/an-enemy-of-the-people.html

The Wider Earth – REVIEW

The Wider Earth 

Natural History Museum, London

★★★★

The Wider Earth

Natural History Museum, London

 

Seen October 20th, 2018

Reviewed by Jade Prince

★★★★

We all know the name Charles Darwin and how his discoveries changed the world however what is less well-known is his very first voyage and the way this changed his own life.

Enter a world of adventure.

As an audience, you are taken onboard HMS Beagle and sail across the world, witnessing first hand the evolution of Darwin. This show provides a unique insight into the battles 22-year-old Charles Darwin (Bradley Foster) faced when reaching for his dream. Striving for acknowledgement in a prestigious community, acceptance from his father (Robert Darwin played by Ian Houghton) and mutual love from Emma Wedgwood (Melissa Vaughan).

The Wider Earth is London’s newest family show and has all the elements a parent would wish for. It’s entertaining, educational and a perfect way to round off a day of learning at the Natural History Museum. This was something I loved the most about the show, it’s setting. Tucked away down one of the grand corridors, the auditorium is situated right next to The Darwin Centre. A perfect pairing.

Lets get onto the show. There were many aspects I enjoyed. The story did exactly what it said it would do. It presented the buildup to Darwin’s first voyage, the voyage itself and then his return. Five years of someone’s life told in two hours. The script had a very comfortable pace. There were no moments that felt rushed and it was definitely presented at a level suitable for all ages. My only criticism would be that the characters were very bland. I didn’t feel much characterisation.

The set was brilliant. It really helped to create an incredibly smooth transition from scene to scene. The rotation also helped to provide the feeling of traveling. There were a couple of transitions where the cast continued acting on the ‘rock’ during the rotation giving the impression they were exploring a new foreign land. It was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, however after a few scene changes the transitions felt a little repetitive and it definitely lost its wow factor.

My favourite element of the show had to be the puppets, I just wished they had more stage time. The design of the puppets was in the form of simplistic mechanisms.  You could see the structure of the inside of the puppet and route of movement. To incorporate the puppets didn’t require additional cast and crew, the cast members you saw onstage also evolved into puppeteers! Watching it on stage was beautiful. They became this extra limb for the puppet/animal displaying all the associated characteristics.

Sound and light was something which really added depth to the show. Throughout, there was an amazing backing track easing the plot through its own organic growth but also, when needed, heightened the intensity. One scene which really sticks out (without giving to much of the story away) was the moment HMS Beagle capsized. The stage and auditorium were a wash of rippling shades of blue. Completely submerged. In fact, replaying that vision whilst writing this, I can easily say that was my favourite scene in the show. So many actions perfectly executed; the sound, the light, the slow motion acting from the cast.

Looking at the whole package it is clear to see why the Natural History Museum was selected to play host to The Wider Earth. No other venue would do.

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Be sure to see The Wider Earth which is calling the Natural History Museum home from now until February 24th 2019. Did I also mention that children go free when paired with a paying adult ticket? It’s true, they do! More information on the show and tickets can be found at: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/the-wider-earth.html