Hot Lips and Cold War ★★★★★
Hot Lips and Cold War explores cultural, sexual, political relationships and the nature of the glue that holds everything together – trust. – Lizzie Freeborn
Set in the time of the JFK administration, this new musical by Lizzie Freeborn set in the Whitehouse looks at the staff in house at the time of the sexual scandal set by JFK himself and Ms Marilyn Monroe.
The main focus of this show, however, is a young Irish girl Maria, played by Sylvie Briggs, a photographer who wants out of Ireland to start a new life. Briggs really shows the sweetness and naivety of Maria throughout the show, especially when her love, Davy, played by Adam Small is around, a young American, PA to the president’s secretary. Maria is in love with Davy but it’s one-sided.
Small is great at showing Davy in a light that makes the audience both feel sympathy and hate towards the character.
Within the Whitehouse, we meet Mrs Kennedy’s maid Grace, and her son, Marvin played by Florence Odumosu and Jamal Franklin. The pair worked off each other well and you believed the love they had between them as a family. When Franklin sang his first song with Maria, he did come off a bit camp which almost ruining his character development, but, unlike most small theatre shows I’ve seen, he managed to redeem himself pretty quick and you could see and believe that he was slowly falling in love with Maria
The Kennedy’s were perfect, Marcia Sommerford really made the first lady her own and you could see the worry and betrayal in her eyes from her husband’s affair, and the hatred she had for Marilyn Monroe played by Freya Tilly who was the reincarnation of Ms Monroe herself.
JFK, played by Robert Oliver had stage presence as the President and really brought to life the worries and concerns the man had that his affairs would get out and ruin everything he worked so hard for.
With such a small company, I need to mention Lewis Rae, the President’s secretary Kenny O'Donnell and Ashley Knight who played Jerome Kingsley, a rich Southerner who was both a racist and a bigot, I enjoyed Knight’s performance as he played it just right. With Englishmen playing Rich Southerner’s there’s always the danger of overplaying, but this wasn’t the case. His song ‘You’ll hear the South Roar’ was one of my favourites.
Hot Lips and Cold War is playing at the London Theatre Workshop until February 24th.