Writer: Chloe Hooton
Director: Noel MacDuffie
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
This multi-media play explores one woman’s desire to be true to herself. To be authentic does she need to strip off the trappings of femininity?
The Woman Who Shed Her Skin is concerned is with the addiction that some women have to cosmetic products as they strive for the perfection that society demands of them. Blonde and heavily made-up Corrine first appears as a shallow character as she flicks her hair and struts to her psychotherapist in her heels suggesting that appearance is everything. However, there is another Corrine who writhes beside her longing to ditch the ornamental facade and, instead, find an inner, deeper self. This second Corinne is silent and played by dancer Jenna Rae Smith in an impressive performance.
To reflect the internal struggle between the two sides of Corinne (though at times there appears to be four) the dialogue comes in the form of rhyming couplets, and while quite entertaining to start with, quickly begins to grate. These rhymes detract from the serious ideas that the play wants to interrogate. Indeed, there is no time for any deeper analysis as the stage is always too busy; there is film, a hidden voice, a live cellist, an exhibition of creams and lotions, and a Eurovision-style song and dance number. All the performers work hard, but the show itself works too hard. There is no space for Corinne to breathe, and the newly born Corinne remains a mystery to the audience.
While The Woman Who Shed Her Skin has a feminist message, its insistence on the shunning of cosmetic products leaves little room for manoeuvre. There are many ways to be a woman, but this play suggests there is just one.
Reviewed 4 June 2017
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