Two Lips Indifferent Red / Bush Theatre, London

It's theoretically possible that one day I will see a politically unpredictable fringe play - a colonialist comedy, a two-hander in praise of patriarchy, a polemical monologue indicting the homeless for bringing their plight on themselves; but the emphasis here is firmly on the "theoretically". To know that Tamsin Oglesby's Two Lips Indifferent Red is about the beauty industry and cosmetic surgery is also to know, in effect, what its attitude is going to be, and to know that, whatever theatrical surprises the evening may have in store, you aren't going to come out of the Bush marvelling at the service to society performed by those wonderful cosmetic surgeons, tidying up all the ugly, flabby people who would otherwise be such an eyesore on our streets.

The obviousness of Oglesby's point wouldn't matter if her treatment of it weren't also obvious. The plot revolves around the relationship between Jo, a successful catwalk model (played by former model Saffron Burrows, above), and her mother Angela (Fiona Mollison), a mature student. Both feel trapped by Jo's good looks - Jo has a strong line in philosophy and would rather be a photographer; Angela finds in her daughter a constant reminder of her own age and fading charms.

This relationship is established with some plausibly tense, back-stabbing dialogue. But the situation's moral potential is wrecked by the presence of Andrew, Jo's father and Angela's husband, a cosmetic surgeon with an endearing line in grim pre-op humour (he heads off to a liposuction with a merry cry of "All hands to the pump") and no other redeeming qualities - having already messed up a nose-job for Jo, destroying her sense of smell, he's now boosting Angela's confidence by offering her a turn on the operating table as a birthday present. It may be the case that all cosmetic surgeons are insensitive monsters on this scale; but you feel that we're dealing in the realm of theoretical probabilities here. The effect is to weaken Oglesby's case - the unintended implication seems to be, not that cosmetic surgery has bad effects but that clumsily offered cosmetic surgery has bad effects; we need more persuasive salesmen on the case.

There are some incidental pleasures in Vicky Featherstone's production - solid central performances by Burrows and Mollison, and strong support from Rebecca Blake and Sarah Coomes, doubling as a pair of brainless catwalk models and a pair of brainless beauticians (you feel Oglesby doesn't have a great deal of respect for women who go into the beauty industry). The beauticians in particular get some jolly one-liners - arguing over whether Madonna is a pornographer or not ("I just wouldn't want to be the cause of anyone getting an erection unless I was there with them in the same room to do something about it"). But these are really caricatures; it's ironic that while Oglesby has set out to write a play about the evils of a society that judges people by their looks, her characterisations only go skin-deep.

n To 7 Oct. Booking: 0181-743 3388

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living