In Lipstick is a drama that is not short of comedy elements. While the theme of the storyline is through-and-through tragic, the characters on stage are never short of witty and, at times, purely hilarious comments.
James Doherty (Dennis), Caroline Faber (Maud), and Alice Sykes (Cynthia) are the ideal cast for the characters of In Lipstick. Their subtle mimic and movements don’t seem like an actor exaggerated at any point and are ideal for Annie Jenkins’ incredibly well-written script. Their physical performance develops with the characters. This shows specifically well in Dennis’ attempt to learn dancing in order to make up for mistakes, as well as in Cynthia’s sudden behavioural change when encountering Dennis for the first time.
In contrast to these two extroverted characters, Maud constantly keeps an unreadable and passive face. This makes her the most concerning character and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats, waiting for an outburst. From a psychological point of view, the performance is an all too accurate description of troubled minds.
Another well-thought-through feature is the set. Turned into a spinning circle that is separated into three different rooms, the repetitive movement of the stage during scene changes could be seen as underlining the destructive behavioural circles that the characters are caught up in.
Further, the costumes are pure perfection. Every single accessory and piece of clothing is part of the characters and aids in explaining them without words. The changing and adapting of everyone’s wardrobes is simply realistic and reminds the audience of people that you would see in your everyday life, on the street or at work.
The only major issue is that one of the key scenes seems to get lost in the pace of the play. Both Maud’s and Cynthia’s pasts are revealed during one of Maud’s fairy tales. However, the moment itself feels more like the fading of a whole scene rather than a major plot point. The spoken pacing of the fairy tale makes it difficult to follow. This might also be accelerated through the lack of an interval. This backstory comes up somewhere in the middle of the whole play and is as such somewhat unexpected for the audience. However, this is quite surprising, as the performance does not drag and is not difficult to follow. The ninety minutes pass in the blink of an eye, the story and the acting are capturing and incredibly well executed. Thus, it is a shame that the moment of revelation is rushed through.
Nevertheless, In Lipstick deserves its five stars and is definitely worth a trip to the theatre for having a good laugh as well as a good cry – and that at times in synchronization.