Home » London Theatre Reviews » Shedding A Skin by Amanda Wilkin at Soho Theatre | Review

Shedding A Skin by Amanda Wilkin at Soho Theatre | Review

The end of each scene is clearly distinct. Myah (Amanda Wilkin) tells her story, directly addressing the audience. It’s not all exposition: there’s some dramatization, with staging, props, projections, subtle lighting changes (amongst other things). But then there’s a sudden shift to a completely unrelated story. Well, there may have been some connection, but I summarily failed to make out what they were – “in the same moment”, something else is happening at a distance that could be anything from five to 568 miles away. What’s going on elsewhere in the world is interesting enough, but largely unmemorable here, and it says something about how much these other brief stories come across as ‘filler’ when the final scene ends without one.

Shedding A Skin by Amanda Wilkin
Shedding A Skin by Amanda Wilkin

Myah tells a very detailed story, which makes the narrative credible, whether she is talking about a conversation she had with her new landlady Mildred, or the use of her personal coffee cup, with her name on it, by a senior colleague without her permission. It is often amusing, with a ‘no holds barred’ approach to recalling events in Myah’s life – she is at a crossroads in life, but life must carry on, and it’s not as if she can take a career break and recharge her batteries. Even when she wants to spend a Friday evening quietly chilling in her room, Mildred, a retired lady and a pillar of the local community, is having none of it: (relative) youth is wasted on the young, and Myah finds herself, having been instructed to put her shoes on, in a pub.

She is not, it appears, looking for love, but nonetheless learns from her experiences. The production borders on being a stand-up observational comedy show, at times managing to raise laughs from the audience for describing things as ‘ordinary’ as getting something from the kitchen fridge or walking along the high street. There are times when Myah stands up for herself, though sometimes the manner in which she conducts herself is, with the benefit (or hindrance, for that matter) of hindsight, something she either questions or regrets, or both.

One of the questions patients attending a Covid-19 mass vaccination clinic in England are asked relates to their ethnicity (because the NHS came under fire for not having sufficient data on vaccine uptake for different ethnicities). For someone like Myah of mixed heritage, it may not be easy to pinpoint which ethnic group she belongs to (the question is not, at the time of writing, open-ended), and there are a lot more of life’s imponderables that Myah tries her best to work through.

There’s a message of hope, too, for older generations who may feel they have little, if anything, to offer successive generations. It may feel as though there is no knowledge that needs to be passed down anymore thanks to the vast array of information available online, but as Myah discovers, there are some things that a Google search won’t reveal. Set in the capital, elements of the show are highly relatable to London audiences.

Like many single performer shows, there’s just the one perspective on events, and it would have been particularly beneficial to this storyline to have been partial to Mildred’s inner thoughts as well as Myah’s. With moments of high drama as well as introspection, a lot is crammed into this one-act show, which manages to be encouraging and uplifting without being saccharine or sentimental.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

A story for our times, Shedding A Skin is a play about finding kindness in unexpected places, moments of connection, intergenerational friendship and joy. It will be the first new play staged in front of live audiences at Soho Theatre since the pandemic and brings together the creative talents of Amanda Wilkin and Elayce Ismail, who also directed the sell-out hit GIRLS (Soho Theatre 2016).

CREATIVE AND PRODUCTION TEAM
Writer and Performer Amanda Wilkin
Director Elayce Ismail
Set and Costume Designer Rosanna Vize
Lighting Designer Jess Bernberg
Projection Designer Nina Dunn
Sound Designer and Composer Richard Hammarton
Assistant Director Nimmo Ismail
Producer Ameena Hamid
Photography credit Helen Murray

PRODUCTION
Produced by Soho Theatre
Sponsored by NJA, Core Values & Creative Management
VERITY BARGATE AWARD
Sponsored by Character 7

There will be one live-streamed performance on the 15th July 2021.

Listings Information:
Dates: 17 June – 17 July
Times: 7.30pm (3pm matinees)
https://sohotheatre.com/

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