This play about love starts with a fight. And not just a verbal fight. Tom and Elizabeth launch themselves at each other, scratching, punching, pulling and tearing in a struggle that bursts out of nowhere. Love, writer Gary Henderson suggests, is a force to be reckoned with.
‘Skin Tight’ is the story of a lifelong relationship, which unfolds on a bare stage with only some cornflowers and a tin bath for adornment. Tom and Elizabeth live in a kind of pleasant purgatory. It’s not clear exactly where they are, or when it is; the characters talk throughout as if they were both young and old but the actors who play them don’t change their youthful appearance.
It’s ambitious to try to condense, replicate and evoke a tumultuous and passionate relationship in an hour on stage and Jemma Goss’s swift-moving production doesn’t allow us time to work out just what’s going on. With so much to cover in the text, things often get confusing.
It’s not clear, for example, which war Tom goes off to fight in, or why Elizabeth has fallen out with her daughter and this ambiguity becomes frustrating. It means that although Angela Bull and John Schumacher’s Elizabeth and Tom are performed with an admirable intensity, we simply don’t care enough about them.
Still though, there’s poetry in Henderson’s script and Bull and Schumacher’s playful, physical performance lifts the show, so that we feel we have a tiny window onto two people with a remarkable connection.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell