Mixing the more colourful and camp with the harsh realities of inequality and creative restaint for the Iranian women is a powerful storytelling device.
Nathan Kiley in Lipstick A Fairy Tale of Iran. Photo: Flavia Fraser-Cannon
A catwalk divides the seats at the Omnibus Theatre on which drag queen in green sequined dress is lip synching.
However, this isn't a Friday-night cabaret performance of a power ballad or pop song instead she tells the story of an Iranian woman, blinded and disfigured in an acid attack by a jealous man.
Mixing contrasting forms with narrative is a clever and powerful feature of Sarah Chew's play based on her real experiences when her six-week, Arts Council-funded cultural exchange trip to Iran coincided with the Green uprising.
While Orla (Siobhan O'Kelly) is in Iran, her best friend Mark (drag artist Nathan Kiley) is putting the finishing touches to their new club back in Soho.
Candid voicemail messages
As the story of Orla's trip unfolds, Kiley plays all the other characters as well as Mark who leaves long, amusingly candid voicemail messages for her.
It is inventive storytelling mixing boylesque, drag, Vaudeville with more traditional forms, and at times it feels like a fairytale - a dark, modern fairytale laced with very real modern life horrors.