A tender and funny story of growing up and self-discovery has potential but there is definite room for development.

(c)Lidia Crisafulli

It can’t be denied that there is an endearing quality to Lily Shahmoon’s portrayal of two teenage boys embarking on a journey of self-discovery and emotional complications that ensures there is a likeable quality throughout. But there is definite room for development in terms of developing this friendship between Jordan and Tommy to highlight further their individual anxieties and worries – with some ideas coming in a little late to have much impact on the outcome.

Directed with great frankness and honesty by Ed White, Lipstick has plenty of charm and wit – delivered to perfection by Helen Aluko’s portrayal of Jordan and April Hughes as Tommy – but it feels as though too many weighty themes have been thrown into this 70 minute straight through piece. There are situations that feel rushed through, that deserves closer attention – particularly with regards to Tommy’s anxiety as he reveals to Jordan how much medication he is on.

Lilty Shahmoon’s writing is sensitive, but there are moments in which the plot can feel slightly muddled .For example the moments in which both characters are applying make up – are they doing it as a mask to hide from the world? Or is it because they simply enjoy it? There just needs to be a little more clarity on certain details to make the plot really shine.

It has to be said that Lipstick is given real life and energy thanks to the two performances from Helen Aluko’s outwardly bold and brash Jordan who uses personality to hide from the reality of his parents relationship problems and April Hughes as the sensitive and confused Tommy who is simply trying to survive the best way he can. Both performances are filled with energy and tenderness that is immensely enjoyable to watch.

Overall, while it is a thoughtful piece of writing, there is no reason why Shahmoon couldn’t develop the story and characters further into a longer piece to really cover the themes it wants to in more depth.

By Emma Clarendon

Lipstick continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until the 28th March.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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