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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

A little more mascara: Lipstick, a fairy tale of Iran @Omnibus_Theatre

A nightclub. A cultural exchange to Iran. Rose flavoured marzipan. A drag nightclub. An unlikely series of elements come together to tell a polished and compelling tale of oppression and freedom in Lipstick: A fairy tale of Iran. Written and directed by Sarah Chew, it’s currently playing at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham.

On a simple stage we’re introduced to Orla (Siobhan O’Kelly) and her best friend Mark (Nathan Kiley). They’re about to open a drag club night in Soho. But Orla’s just returned from a theatre residency in Iran as part of some government sponsored initiative.  And by chance she’s seen a failed revolution.

A daring drag cabaret stage show in soho pales in comparison to the everyday acts of defiance she sees in Tehran.  Life in Iran seems so much more complicated than how its depicted in western media. Meanwhile life in London is not without its drawbacks either.

The show uses lip syncing, drag cabaret, and fragmented memories to paint a picture of oppression and freedom in both London and Tehran.

O’Kelly is a terrific as the witness and narrator of this compelling and unique story. Kiley (who also performs as Topsie Redfern) is a treat as the sad young man who turns into a beautiful woman at midnight. His interpretations of the various cabaret standards serve the narrative well.

The piece is based on the time Chew spent in Tehran at the time of the Green Uprising in 2010. This followed the contested 2009 Iranian election. Where people came out onto the streets urging the removal of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office.

As a witness to everyday atrocities and acts of kindness has inspired an original and sensitive piece. One that reflects on universal desires of freedom and free expression.

Lipstick: A fairy tale of Iran is part of the Omnibus 96 Festival and is at the Omnibus Theatre until 24 March. There are a series of events alongside the show including Topsie Lates every Thursday and post show talks every Wednesday. Check the website for details.


Photos by Flavia Fraser-Canon

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