The Hope Theatre
Reviewed – 19th October 2017
“passion, playfulness, tenderness and brutality all flicker between them like lightning sparks”
An intricate examination of one couple’s love and life together laid bare in Southern Magpie’s inaugural production of Gary Henderson’s Skin Tight. Set in 1950s New Zealand, Elizabeth and Tom assess their past and face their future in this tightly wound story of a couple’s final moments together.
This is an accomplished production and the clarity of Max Kirk’s direction and staging is impeccable. The reliving of their history in movement creates a rugged intimacy between the couple and a visceral connection between the two performers that immediately invites the audience into feeling familiarity with this relationship. This is the story of a couple completely comfortable with each other (if not necessarily with themselves), taking in every facet of each other – passion, playfulness, tenderness and brutality all flicker between them like lightning sparks. The physical work and strength of both performers is impressive, an orchestrated chaos which adeptly uses the intimacy of the Hope to its advantage without ever becoming imposing.
As Elizabeth and Tom, Louise Hoare and Phillippe Edwards both turn in captivating performances keeping pace both physically and emotionally with the beats of the play. As the provocative Elizabeth, Hoare is both worldly and naïve as she teases and torments them both with memories of their former life. As the more guarded Tom, Edwards gives the character steel in his determination to be happy, even as he struggles to hold himself together. The chemistry they have together is touching, without ever being sentimental or cloying, based on an acceptance of the other with no need for romanticism. It makes the final moments of the play truly heartbreaking as their goodbye is finalised.
A polished piece of work from an exciting new company. Southern Magpie are clearly one to watch. A very well deserved 5 stars.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Photography by Tim Hall
is at The Hope Theatre until 4th November