Tipping the Velvet, Lyric, Hammersmith, review: Tremendous performances and wonderful designs

Laura Wade's stage adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel is worth the admission price for certain sequences alone

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For my taste, Laura Wade's stage adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel is worth the price of admission for certain brilliant sequences alone. There's now a music hall framework and the inspired idea of merging this with suitably rearranged pop songs. You haven't lived if you haven't witnessed Sally Messham's Nancy and Laura Rogers's Kitty – lesbian lovers – deliver Prince's Kiss to very oompah English rhythms as a pair of white-tie-and-cane male impersonators. That teasing jangly delay before Prince (and Tom Jones in the great cover) reach the word “Kiss” is perfect for the titillation this pair are provoking with the public. Less easy to write about in a family paper is a sort of Sunday in the Park with The Renters which extends to cut-out people the principle of the “glory hole'. Very funny.

True, it's all a bit too long and until it's eventually justified, I felt uncomfortable with the gavel-bashing Chairman (played with great charm by David Cardy) a guide through piece about the politics and sexual politics of being a woman. And twirling aerial bliss was over-reminiscent of this theatre's version of Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus. But the performances are tremendous, Lizzie Clachan's designs wonderfully inventive; and director Lyndsey Turner bounces straight back to glory after the misstep of the Cumberbatch Hamlet.

To 24 October; 020 8741 6850

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