Young critics scheme review
Institut français d’Ecosse (Venue 134): Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015
After its world debut in the Avignon Festival last year, Cie du Veilieur brings Gustave Akakpo’s exploration of identity to the French Institute for the 2015 Festival Fringe.
The play centres on George (Moyo Akande), a vulnerable young girl who wears the skin of a dead girl. She has committed this act of appropriation in order to inhabit the ‘culture’ of Mamadou (Thierry Mabonga) a boy bullied by his peers for his allegedly foreign skin colour, despite the fact that he was born down the road.
Moyo Akande. Photo: Albie Clark
One of the play’s main strengths is its original blending of film and live action, as the actors on the stage convincingly interact with their prerecorded counterparts. The interactions and transitions between film and live action are utterly seamless, and this is part of what makes the play memorable.
Another area where the production succeeds is establishing tone. The scenes involving the changing of skin are delightfully creepy, with a sprinkling of body horror, but at the same time are intimately beautiful.
The production’s young cast are excellent. Moyo Akande, as the show’s lead, brings heart and vulnerability to George, a girl looking to escape her life and find a new identity. Mabonga is also excellent as Mamadou, an outcast in a society that rejects his attempts to fit in. And Ashley Smith manages to carry off portraying six different characters, both in person and as prerecorded spectres.
However, the play has a few weaknesses that draw the viewer out of the story. The periodic rap numbers dotted in the play not only feel out of place, but jar completely with the overall tone. But that isn’t the only thing that feels out of place. The ending feels like it belongs in another story, with its message of community and friendship completely at odds with the rest of the play.
Running time: 50 minutes
Institut français d’Ecosse (Venue 134), 13 Randolph Crescent, EH3 7TT
Friday 7 – Monday 31 August 2015
Daily (not Mons 10, 17, 24): 2pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/skins-and-hoods
Institut français d’Ecosse website: http://www.ifecosse.org.uk/