ComedyDramaFeaturedNew YorkPhysical TheatreReview

SKIN – A.R.T. / New York Theatres

Writer: the Company

Director: Becky Baumwoll

Original Music:  Eleni Arapolglou, Wes Braver, Paul Castles & Jack McGuire

Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers

When faced with the concept of trudging to a theatre on 10th Avenue and 53rd St on one of the coldest days of the year, one hopes the show inside the walls of A.R.T. / New York Theatres is worth the schlep. Broken Box Mime Theater’s (or BKBX’s if you will) SKIN more than earns a chilly walk through midtown. This movement piece based largely in the tradition of classical French mime, peppered with notes of Italian commedia dell’arte and robust with 2019 social awareness, is a singular experience in the power of silence and signal. 

A series of short pieces, helpfully contextualized by the playbill, range from a few moments to several minutes long. They run the gamut from joyously silly (i.e., Snail Cop, and if that piques interest then a ticket must be purchased to experience it for oneself) to introspective and incisive. Tackling family dynamics, various forms of violence, sexual assault, and the struggle of creative expression, SKIN takes on the various connotations of the titular word. The vignette structure is dramaturgically sound, with excellent balance struck in the order of the scenes to create dynamics in tone and tempo without giving the audience aesthetic whiplash. The show runs a tight ninety minutes that simply flies by, including two ninety-second breaks – a convention that seems a bit unorthodox and perhaps gratuitous initially, but the mini-breathers help to propel the pace of the piece rather than preclude it.

The work of the ensemble – Nick Abeel, Becky Baumwoll, Duane Cooper, Blake Habermann, David Jenkins, Marissa Molnar, Joél Perez, Regan Sims, and Matt Zambrano – is stunning, tight, and strikes the delicate balance of appearing effortless while showcasing the ample talent of the performers as individuals and as a group. These performances coupled with beautifully specific lights and sound by Jamie Roderick and Nick Abeel, respectively, create an engaging, memorable production. Even a Sunday matinee preview was well-attended, so it would be more than advisable to snap up tickets sooner rather than later for this charming show’s short but sweet run.

Runs until 3 February 2019 | Image: Bjorn Bolinder

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