“Shedding a Skin is a story for our times. A play about finding kindness in unexpected places. A play about connecting with what our elders can teach us – new skin honouring old skin. A play about joy, healing and protest. And having a good belly laugh”.
Currently running at the Soho Theatre’s main space, Shedding a Skin is both written and performed by the versatile Amanda Wilkin. I previously reviewed her audio play Recognition (part of Written on the Waves).
She appears as Myah, a biracial woman in London “in a clique of just me”, whose meltdown at work at a ‘diversity’ photoshoot sets her on a path to find out who she really is. We first meet her in a small gap in a sea of black, her body language apologetic, trying to make her tall frame cramped and small.
In developing a couple of strong new friendships in both new job and new home, Myah connects with both her own insecurities and the secrets we all keep. Within a set by Rosanna Vise which is incrementally revealed in darker shades by opening blinds and ripping down curtains, Wilkin has plenty of space to reveal both Myah’s awkwardness and strength, and to let her body relax and grow.
Her new landlady, Mildred, elderly, feisty, and bringing back memories of family past, is a great creation. We never see her except through Wilkin’s voice and gestures, but she is a towering presence on the stage.
Shedding a Skin is a very funny piece, but also has serious points to make about male and white privilege, and how diversity in all its forms can be celebrated. In taking Mildred’s lead, Myah realises that the expectations of those around her do not necessarily fit the space you needs to occupy.
In Elayce Ismail’s production, Wilkin weaves her words and situations with warmth and clarity, and if Mildred’s story is a vaguely familiar one as it develops, it is still effective and touching. This elder does not conform to what others think, and she a completely recognisable character with her welcome mat and disapproving ‘hmms’.
Wilkin is an important new voice and a dynamic performer who can hold the attention of an audience for ease throughout this play’s ninety minutes.
Shedding a Skin is sold out in person (running until 17 July), but a livestream is available on the 15 July, and you can book for that here.
Image credit: Helen Murray
LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to review Shedding a Skin.