The Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue is not a reference source I turn to often, especially the original 1811 edition. In fact, this is my first foray into such an esteemed piece of literature. I did so to look up the meaning, via google, since I don’t happen to own a copy, of the term, ‘Tipping the velvet’. It’s a Victorian euphemism for ‘cunnilingus’, oral sex in layman’s terms. It’s also the title for Sara Waters’ audacious bestselling debut novel, which became a TV series and now a new stage adaption by Laura Wade.
Directed by Lyndsey Turner, Tipping The Velvet completed it’s World Premiere at London’s Lyric Hammersmith theatre this month and is currently at the Lyceum in Edinburgh as part of the theatre’s 50th Anniversary season. The ‘Tipping’ tale is a Victorian coming of age story, when young Kentish girl and theatre-obsessed Nancy Astley falls in love with male impersonator Kitty Butler and follows her to London, “where unimaginable adventures await.” The lovers become a fully-trousered double-act in the West End, but as the narrator suggests, “you might not get the ending you paid for…but you’ll leave grossly entertained nevertheless.” Needless to say the publicity material does have the warning, ‘This show contains scenes of a sexual nature.’
Making her professional debut in the role of the ‘giddy with desire and hungry for experience’ Nan is Sally Messham and Laura Rogers plays Kitty. Both received critical plaudits and both kindly signed and returned my sketch, which contains a scene of an about to happen sexual nature.