Monday 26 August 2019

Skin Tight at The New Theatre, Dublin: New Zealand play is theatrical magic

Running until August 17

Skin Tight at The New Theatre
Skin Tight at The New Theatre

Katy Hayes

The action starts with an exuberant young couple wrestling; a choreographed fight full of muscularity and sexual energy. We learn they love one another. We learn they are jealous. We learn they are married. Something is uncanny and not quite right.

We hear about the war. We hear the farm was lost to the banks. Slowly it dawns on the audience that these are in fact elderly people, and the drama playing out is the meat of their past lives, lived over decades, full of wounds and triumphs and, especially, love. Elizabeth warns there is only a short time left before she has to leave.

Madeleine Dunne is a revelation as Elizabeth, her textured voice as rich as the New Zealand landscape the play evokes. Barry John Kinsella is excellent as Tom, his happy-go-lucky surface masking a stoic post-war manhood. They both rise brilliantly to the many physical theatre challenges of the play; movement here is as important as words.

Director Owen Lindsay produces a tightly disciplined and hugely impressive choreographed show, ably abetted by light and sound designer Colin Doran's subversive work. Produced by Restless Ecstasy, this Irish premiere of New Zealander Gary Henderson's hit 1994 play is a treat, weaving its dramatic magic in a form that can only work on the stage.

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