Shedding A Skin – Soho Theatre, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Amanda Wilkin

Director: Elayce Ismail

Some monologues take a while to warm up, but the best, like Amanda Wilkin’s Shedding A Skin, throw you directly into the middle of the story. Myah has been called into a meeting by her boss. When she looks around she sees that only the non-white employees have been summoned. She soon finds herself at the centre of a photo shoot designed to promote the company’s diversity hirings. It doesn’t end well.

Wilkin is a skilled storyteller, and from this early opening scene she has the audience hooked for the next 90 minutes. Tall and awkward, self-depreciating and shy, Myah is instantly likeable, and slightly familiar. Wilkin rattles through the story and we hear about Myah losing her job, splitting up with her boyfriend and responding to a Rooms to Let advert on the noticeboard at the local supermarket. The audience is often too busy laughing to feel sorry for her in these early moments.

But it’s when Myah moves into Mildred’s house that the play slows down and really begins to take shape. Mildred is an elderly Jamaican woman who came to England in the ‘60s, but her life is sketchy and mysterious. There are no photos on display and Mildred is reluctant to talk.

In many ways, Shedding A Skin shares similar concerns to Jack Holden’s Cruise, which ran earlier this summer at the Duchess Theatre. Here a young gay man seeks out his queer ancestors from the ‘80s and ‘90s to discover that he is standing on the shoulders of giants. Wilkin’s play is also determined to forge alliances between the generations. Both shows call for a kind of collaboration.

Rosanna Vize’s set of screens is exciting, each disappearing panel a symbol of truth being found or of self-realisation being gained. Indeed, the only part of the play that doesn’t work is the snippets of other scenes of connection being made around the world. They are not necessary as the play itself does this work. The themes of the play do not need any further underlining.

In other times perhaps Wilkin could lead the audience out of the theatre and finish the play outside in Piccadilly Circus. It would be a fitting finale as this plays demands more than applause; it demands action.

Runs until 17 July 2021 and livestreamed on 15 July

The Reviews Hub Score


Show More
Photo of The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

Related Articles

Back to top button
The Reviews Hub