What are the moments that make up a lifetime? As Elizabeth and Tom reminisce about their lives together from school to old age we realise the most memorable moments as a couple are in many ways the most mundane – eating an apple, washing your hair, everyday chores on a farm. Skin Tight is a funny yet poignant reflection on years of love (and sometimes hate) and marriage.
The play starts and ends with two impressive physical theatre sequences and I especially enjoyed the music that these were set to which really set the tone for the play. I also found the lighting design very powerful as we moved very clearly from daylight to twilight, both over the course of a day and metaphorically as the characters aged.
Louise Hoare and Adam Slynn were both compelling in their roles and brought life to the characters. Given both characters are supposed to be in old age, I did find it strange at times to see two very young actors playing them, but if the saying ‘you are as young as you feel’ is true, then maybe this was supposed to be a physical manifestation of that. Either way, I couldn’t help but invest in these characters and the ending, despite being predictable from early on, was very emotional as a result.
When I reach old age, I would like to think it would take more than 50 minutes to sum up my life, and indeed, I think it should have taken more than 50 minutes for Skin Tight to sum up Elizabeth and Tom’s lives too. This is probably the only play I’ve ever seen which I think is 10 minutes too short! I was left with quite a lot of unanswered questions which I would have enjoyed seeing resolved.
I also have some questions about the set which I would have liked to have answered. I’m not sure when I entered why Tom was drawing on the floor in chalk, and I never did work out what the picture was supposed to be. Nor do I understand why there was so much aggression during some of the physical theatre sequences. It was quite uncomfortable at times watching two people try and physically hurt each other and then switching very suddenly into passion. I hope this was supposed to be a metaphor for anger in the relationship, and not that there was an abusive element that had been normalised.
Overall, despite having more questions than answers, I really did enjoy the show and I would definitely recommend a visit.
Review by Emily Gami
1950s, the rural plains of Southern New Zealand. She has to go, he can’t let her. A couple’s past unravels in a tender, playful and bruising encounter.
As Tom and Elizabeth face their final struggle and look back over their lives, their darkest secrets, fears and desires are laid bare as fractured moments of violence and memory play out around an old, decaying farm.
Based on Dennis Glover’s iconic kiwi poem ‘The Magpies’, Skin Tight is a fierce portrayal of our need to hold onto love and the past, and to find a place to truly belong.
Southern Magpie revive their 5* production of one of New Zealand’s most beloved plays.
Praise for Southern Magpie’s Skin Tight:
Writer Gary Henderson
Director Max Kirk
Producer Cindy Mclean-Bibby
19 Oct – 6 Nov 2021