There’s something so unique about watching a play that is being performed by the writer. This amalgamation of the two talents is definitely not unusual amongst creatives but sometimes the blend of the both can be especially engaging. This is the case for Amanda Wilkin – her familiarity with the narrative and ease of delivery creates a piece of theatre that feels personal, nuanced and as though you could be the only person in the room with her at that moment.
SHEDDING A SKIN follows Myah who appears at the beginning crammed into a slither of space in the middle of the stage. At 30, she feels like her life is at a standstill – between a racist workplace where she is accused of being “aggressive”, a narcissistic boyfriend who she refers to as ‘swamp man’ (he lives on a boat) and her friends who offer advice mid baby juggle – she is full of frustration, disappointment and despair.
After calling quits on both her job and relationship, she moves in with Mildred, a Jamaican woman who is old in age, young in spirit and ready to teach Myah about what it really means to feel comfortable in her own skin. Myah takes us on the journey every step of the way, confronting themes surrounding identity, loneliness, connection, social pressure, self-acceptance and fearing but welcoming change. Wilkin’s writing does an expert job at keeping us laughing throughout with various anecdotes and impersonations that keep the story enriched with wit in all the right places.
Some beautiful and poignant lines/moments too (which I’m not going to attempt word for word) but… where she describes a hug from Mildred and how it feels as though she’s received thousands of years worth of hugs she’s been missing just in that one. Another where she sits in a pub with Mildred and finally feels seen, heard, understood – the simplicity of the setting and normality of the motions of sitting, out, drinking, with company (the right company), is so full of meaning and significance.
Also, without giving too much away, I loved the gradual uncovering of the set/ space that happens throughout, also the transformation of colour in the form of the lighting and costume. Impactful and visually symbolic.
On until 17th July at Soho Theatre / tickets are sold out but you know what I’m gonna say – keep your eye on the website for those returns! Also, I’m sure this will be back (better be)!