Hope Theatre, London – until 6 November 2021
I’m always amazed at the level of creativity that goes into putting on a show in a small and intimate space – particularly when it is quite physical. This is certainly one of the incredible achievements of this revival of Skin Tight, which makes full use of the space and makes the audience feel as close to the central couple as possible.
Set in the 1950s in Southern New Zealand, Skin Tight sees a couple reflecting on their life together – their joy and laughter as well as pain and sorrow that is so well-grounded you are completely drawn into their world. However, it is also a play that leaves many questions left unanswered and tantalisingly wanting to find out more about Elizabeth and Tom’s life together.
At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect as the opening five to ten minutes sees the actors recounting the couple’s relationship through mesmerising physical theatre movement that highlights the love but also anger in the relationship. As secrets are revealed and each character bares their soul to each other, it is a completely relatable piece of theatre that builds (in some ways too quickly) to a moving and tender final scene that breaks the heart. It is a very humane experience that draws the audience in with great sensitivity as it unravels the complexity of emotions that exist in relationships with seeming ease.
Directed by Max Kirk, it is a very tightly thought out production – particularly with regards to the way in which physical movement is used to highlight the inner thoughts and emotions of the characters – whether it is in a playful way in the early part of Tom and Elizabeth’s relationship or when things get tense between the pair. Yet, I have to admit I was slightly confused as to why Tom was drawing on the floor and what the picture was of – it didn’t feel as though it quite fitted in with the story unfolding.
Yet, the way in which lighting is used to highlight beautiful moments of tenderness and intimacy between the couple and the use of music and sound adds warmth to the atmosphere allows the audience to remain thoroughly invested in the unfolding story.
It has to be said that Louise Hoare as Elizabeth and Adam Slynn as Tom both offer sincere performances that highlight the character’s vulnerabilities and flaws in a natural way that makes the audience really feel for the couple at the end.
Overall, Skin Tight is an intriguing piece of theatre that while the simplicity of the story could have been built on a little more there is no denying that it has plenty of heart and feeling attached to it.
By Emma Clarendon
Skin Tight is playing at The Hope Theatre until the 6th November.
‘A very tightly thought-out, physical production’: @LoveLdnLoveCul is tantalised by the @MagpieSouthern’s #SkinTight at @TheHopeTheatre. ★★★★ #theatrereviews #OffWestEnd