Skin Tight – New Theatre – Review
by Paddy McGovern
6th August – 17th August @ 7:30pm (+ Matinees @ 2:30pm on Sat 10th & 17th)
Skin Tight, New Zealand playwright Gary Henderson’s play in one act, receives its Irish premiere at the New Theatre, Dublin. He is brilliantly served by Owen Lindsay’s production for Restless Ecstasy Theatre Company and by two exceptionally accomplished and convincing performances. In fact, it is hard to imagine a finer rendering of the piece – a large claim, perhaps, but one that I feel is fully justified.
The play was written in response to Denis Glover’s poem, The Magpies. It evokes the lives of Tom and Elizabeth from childhood friendship, youthful love and enforced separation, through eventual marriage and family life, on into old age and decline. If this sounds like a recipe for a dull, clichéd two-hander, that would be to underestimate the impact of Henderson’s sparsely-written text and the power of Sheridan’s taut, focused production. However, it is above all the exceptional performances of Barry John Kinsella as Tom and Madeleine Dunne as Elizabeth, locked together in a physical and emotional two-step that will remain in the memory.
Riveting physical theatre – athletic, balletic and erotic – combines with scenes of quiet intimacy as the two actors take the audience through a roller coaster of emotions, reliving key moments of their relationship. There is lust and love, reassurance and confrontation, jealousy and trust, raw honesty and a tender protectiveness. The heart of the play, perhaps, is summed by Tom’s statement that we are mortal, we struggle, we makes mistakes, it’s OK.
Lindsay’s spare production and minimal set allow the actors to carry the full emotional impetus of the play to its thrilling, poignant, conclusion. Not alone are they pitch-perfect emotionally but both actors’ accents are authentic and unfaltering, something not to be taken for granted in Dublin theatre. Together with Feargal Geoghegan’s brief but telling appearance, it is just one of the many fine details that make the trip to Essex St. one that no theatre-lover should miss.
Cast: Madeleine Dunne, Barry John Kinsella
Lighting and Sound Design: Colin Doran
Director: Owen Lindsay
Producer: Anne Marie Sheridan