16/07/2013 - 11/08/2013
An ordinary couple with an extraordinary love relive their darkest secrets, deepest passions and heart-breaking truths.
Throughout all the moments of doubt that life has thrown at them, as long as they can be together, they wouldn’t change a thing. This is their final opportunity to say all the things they never had the chance to say before…
PARK THEATRE, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Dates: 16th July – 11th August; (Press Night 18th July)
Performances: Tues – Sat evenings 19.45; Sat & Sun matinees 15.15
Prices: Adults £15; Concessions £12 – £13
Elizabeth: Angela Bull
Tom: John Schumacher
Designed by Jessamy Willson-Pepper
Lighting Designed by Sherry Coenen
Stage Manager: Anna Robertson
Composer: Gareth Jones
Fight Director: Dan Styles
Movement Director: Clare McKenna
Production Photographer: Andy Colbourne
Art Designer: Al Stride
Projection Designer: Grant Kay
Associate Artists: Holly Maples, William Hartley & Sarah Bradnum
Produced by www.epsilonproductions.co.uk
Deeply romantic and fiercely brutal
Review by Charlotte Everett 04th Aug 2013
Skin Tight is a highly-provocative and intense piece of theatre. Actors Angela Bull and John Schumacher bring New Zealand playwright Gary Henderson’s work to life in a polished and unforgettable London performance.
Set in rural Canterbury, Skin Tight is the deeply romantic yet fiercely brutal story of Tom and Elizabeth, tracing their journey from young sweethearts in 1940s rural New Zealand up to the present day.
Director Jemma Gross has magnificently exploited the intimate space of Finsbury’s Park Theatre, which really lends itself to her direction of Henderson’s already intense writing. The play opens with a highly-physical and violent confrontation between the two actors – on this particular occasion, they even manage to draw blood. The small studio space ensures the audience have no option other than to become completely engrossed in the lives of the characters. It’s an emotional journey; one of enduring love, sensuality, anger and heartbreak.
The play deals in part with the human and emotional impact of New Zealand’s involvement in the Second World War. Elizabeth recalls Tom, along with other young boys from school, faces beaming, waving goodbye from the train as they go off on a big adventure. Some not to return; one to come back with no legs; a mother receiving not one but two telegrams – one for each of her sons – “Could they not have just taken one?!”
Elizabeth has an affair with a young man while Tom is away, in an attempt to convince herself that life can go on without him should he not return. Prompted by Elizabeth, Tom recalls a room in Cairo, with a line of New Zealand soldiers waiting outside, every few minutes a soldier to leave, and the next one to go in.
The play is a journey through time, and it’s assumed that at the point the couple reveal these secrets to each other, many decades have passed since the war. Although set in New Zealand, the play is universal in its analysis of the human psyche; the impact significant life events have on individual lives and our relationships with others over the passage of time.
Bull and Schumacher are simply brilliant. I cannot fault their individual performances, nor the unity between them. The only disappointment however is a distinct lack of the New Zealand accent. The actors are clearly British, and as challenging as a Cantabrian accent can be, a conscious attempt at one would be welcome.
Jessamy Wilson-Pepper’s design is rural yet, again, not distinctly New Zealand. Other than the script itself, there is not really anything definitively New Zealand about the production, so at times it is very easy to forget that the play is set in Canterbury. Although the story itself is universal, it lends itself best to the setting Henderson’s script commands.
Ultimately however, it would be a shame for anyone to elect not to see this production due to the above. It is a clean, professional and well-executed performance. It also provides an opportunity to see one of our best playwright’s work come to life on the other side of the world. Skin Tight is only on until August 11 – be sure not to miss it.
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