Thursday, October 6

Shedding A Skin – Soho Theatre

When, in the first five minutes of a show, you have both, gone “awww” and burst out loud with laughter, you know you’re in for something special. Amanda Wilkin’s original show journeys through a point in Myah’s life where she is juggling a distressing work environment, a disappointed family and a lack of a love life and a roof over her head. Wilkin chooses, however, to laugh at her circumstances along with the audience, taking a stand-up comedy cum physical theatre approach.

Photo: Helen Murray

Highlighting sensitive issues in a lighthearted manner requires a nuanced understanding and great storytelling skills, and this writer-performer has both. Wilkin is highly expressive and theatrical yet comes across as authentic. Whether it is the experience of being treated as a mere figure to fulfil the diversity quota at the workplace or unearthing emotionally loaded memories, each scene has tragedy, comedy and drama blended perfectly. A story of learning from our elders can easily sound preachy but the character of the older woman, Mildred is crafted with great tact. Wilkin’s dynamic and compelling performance has the audience fully invested.

You could watch Wilkin alone on stage for an hour and a half and not be bored. But the play also builds connections to events happening in different spaces with projections (Nina Dunn), which expand the narrative from being just one person’s story to that of a larger, shared experience. This dramaturgical structure (Gillian Greer) breaks what would have otherwise been a linear story and helps capture the complexity and universality of the human experience. This is further layered and supported by a clean and effective set design (Rosanna Vize) that mirrors ‘shedding a skin’ metaphorically.

The show holds you comfortingly and tugs gently at your heart while you’re busy laughing away. Packed with wit, warmth and wild energy this is one not to be missed!

Shedding a Skin is the 2020 winner of Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award. The play premiered at Soho Theatre, London, in June 2021 and is playing until the 26th March,

Reviewer: Aditi Dalal

Reviewed: 5th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★