Hope Theatre, London – until 4 November 2017
A couple wrestle each other with all the affection and aggression that only a couple who have been together for a long time can. It’s tender, brutal, unrestrained and familiar. They each know exactly what the other will do next, and how to wind them up. But it will soon end, as one of them has to leave soon.
Tom and Elizabeth fell in love in school, married, had a child and grew old together on a New Zealand farm. They are an ordinary couple that endure the largely ordinary obstacles of other couples in their time. Now that they are in the twilight of their lives, they urgently reminisce as their time runs out.
Max Kirk’s direction is tensely physical, with the movement sequences the most effective capture of this couple’s relationship. The performances are less satisfying – they rush individual moments and gloss over those that are more tender in favour of feistier ones. Though the actors are clearly comfortable with each other, they lack a consistently genuine intimacy.
Rachel Twyford’s set is minimal, but evocative of a rough-and-ready farm where times are often hard and nature infiltrates every aspect of their lives. A large chalk outline of what might be a body sprouts delicate, trailing roots that creep up the walls of the theatre. Both plants and love both work their way into the tiniest cracks of the hardest of substances and leave indelible marks. We are each changed by those we have loved and lost.
Skin Tight declares that all good things must end and heartbreak is inevitable – but these are the secrets to a fulfilling life. Gary Henderson’s modern classic is reflective and moving, but the production doesn’t fully serve these ends.
Skin Tight runs through 4 November.