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  • Chris O'Rourke

Pop Tart Lipstick

Rex Ryan and Kyle Hixon in Pop Tart Lipstick. Image uncredited


Harris has just got out of prison. Turning up at John's place might not be his best idea on a long list of really bad ideas. Like his idea for John to drop his life and fly with him to Florida tomorrow, just as soon as he's sold a bag full of dodgy drugs. Yet it's been a year since John and Harris last met and John's now reformed, thanks to Jesus, Jordan Peterson and Stalin. He's doing a breathing course. Drinks green tea. Eats fancy pop tarts. Drives buses for a living. And has no real interest in Harris's Park Hopper tickets. In Rex Ryan's debut play, Pop Tart Lipstick, comic absurdities pile up as two friends look for a way to move forward. Played out in real time, Pop Tart Lipstick proves itself something of a clunky, glorious, car crash. Yet one in which the glory rises far above the carnage.

Looking less Howie the Rookie so much as Neil Simon's The Odd Couple if directed by Sanford Meisner, Pop Tart Lipstick overflows with a daring, irresistible audaciousness. Yet despite all the love in the world, it feels forced across the finish line, urged to run before it was quite ready to walk. Structurally it often proves unclear, or confusing, and makes for some big asks despite some hilarious moments. Then there's it's style, with sentences built on a self-referencing circularity aspiring to a Mamet like muscularity, having difficulty finding their rhythm and establishing pace.

Yet underneath there's a terrific play trying to get out, built around two compelling characters you can't help being drawn to. If Stephen Jones' direction struggles with positioning, he unpacks moments of power, humour and humanity in Ryan's script which hold other moments to account. For when Ryan's script finds its moments it can knock you over. And does so on more than one occasion.

Whether it's Ryan charisma or his energised performance as Harris, matched by Kyle Hixon's beguilingly complex John, or just the audaciousness of Glass Mask Theatre finding their feet and the thrill of seeing new work in a new venue, Pop Tart Lipstick delivers a delightful experience stronger than its individual parts. From its poignant ending to its subtle reveal, to its characters finding heart and humour in the maelstrom that is their relationship, Pop Tart Lipstick lures you in like a guilty secret. It might not be the healthiest option, and certainly could have used a little longer in the oven, but it's also just that little bit tasty.

Pop Tart Lipstick by Rex Ryan runs at Glass mask Theatre (Best Seller), Dawson Street, until October 30.

For more information visit Glass Mask Theatre.


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