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Things don’t change no matter how much you want them to. You try, you run away, you make things new but they’re not. It’s just the same old shit covered in lipstick.
Maud, a woman on the run from her damaged past, has sheltered Cynthia from the outside world for the last few years. But while Cynthia is a recluse, living for their dressing-up box, their fairy tales and Shirley Bassey on YouTube, Maud meets Dennis, a security guard at her office. As Cynthia clings, Maud begins to dream of escaping their isolated and claustrophobic world.
Annie Jenkins’ debut play In Lipstick gives savage, funny and heartfelt voice to two women trapped in a fractured city, not quite knowing how to love each other.
Isolation is gilded in glitter in Annie Jenkins' tender debut . . . Jenkins has an ability for writing care within her characters, and we feel the ache of the effort they invest. Under the comedy and bravado, each long for an intimacy that isn’t laced with fear.
It’s a strong and surprising show, and Jenkins’s writing is the star. In its engagement with class politics, including a theatrically exciting sense of what is being performed, it is interesting and considered, but it’s the sheer bombastic weirdness of In Lipstick that will linger in the mind – at times impenetrable, at times bizarre, this is a memorable and entertaining debut play from a writer full of promise.
This play about power and frailty is absolutely gripping from start to finish . . . In the final minutes of the play, the genius of Annie Jenkins’ plot comes together . . . The superb writing behind In Lipstick makes it an incredible piece of theatre, the various elements of the plot building to a crescendo which leaves you astonished and impressed in equal measure. Coupled with exacting performances, particularly from Alice Sykes, this new play is an undeniable triumph.
Characterisation is where In Lipstick is strongest and Jenkins has created three entirely credible and rounded people who are sympathetic and frustrating in equal measure . . . well on the way to become a very smart and quietly devastating piece that revels in the relatability and ordinariness of its characters – a trait that gives the play plenty of warmth and charm.
There's some very good writing here. The final scene is clearly indebted to Pinter but has the energy and the element of hysteria that's found in all Shirley Bassey's performances.
Taken at face value, this is simply the story of an affair. But writer Annie Jenkins is careful to avoid making anyone the villain. There’s a sincere sweetness to the blossoming romance between Maud and Dennis . . . the play’s main strength: finding an odd beauty in everyday sadness.