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June 2021

Review: Shedding A Skin, Soho Theatre - witty, fun and moving

Myah (Amanda Wilkin) is adrift. She goes from one dead-end job to another, trying to fit in until one day she gets called on to be the 'diversity quota' in her company's photos.

Shedding A Skin_Production_Soho_Helen Murray2 smll
Amanda Wilkin in Shedding A Skin, Soho Theatre. Photo: Helen Murray

She snaps, the restraints are off, and this departure is both dramatic and funny - think less eloquent and powerful speech, more scrawling expletives on the office wall.

On a roll, she walks out from her unsupportive boyfriend and finds herself homeless and jobless. She realises too late that it wasn't a good idea to tell her boyfriend he could do what he wants with all her stuff.

Answering an ad on the Tesco notice board, she finds herself living with an elderly Jamaica lady called Mildred on the 15th floor of a tower block with a broken lift.

This time she's going to try harder to make things work. She's going to get her shit together. No, she is.

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Review: J'Ouvert, Harold Pinter Theatre - the theatre I've been waiting to get back to

There has been controversy in the US about a brand of rum called 'J'Ouvert'. It is a term that is both celebratory and has links with the slave trade (read more about that here), and Yasmin Jay's play beautifully captures the contradictions it represents.

J'ouvert poster

Set at the Notting Hill carnival Nadine (Gabrielle Brooks), Jade (Sapphire Joy), Nisha, and Annice Boparai want to enjoy the day, but they also have an agenda.

Nadine has been rehearsing her dance moves and wants to shake off her church upbringing and be the face of the carnival. She is driven by the spirit of Claudia Jones, who founded the carnival and serves as a reminder of the event's origins.

Jade is there to support (and protect) Nadine. She is also being drawn into the world of activism and has a speech to make.

Nisha is a middle-class activist who sees carnival as an opportunity to rally more of the community to her anti-gentrification cause.

Party atmosphere

Before the play starts, the theatre has a party atmosphere, with music playing so that when the curtain rises on carnival day, complete with a DJ at the back of the stage, the scene is set.

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Review: Under Milk Wood, National Theatre, starring Michael Sheen

REVIEW: The National Theatre's production of Under Milk Wood, starring Michael Sheen, was much anticipated and turned into a mixed experience.

Under Milk Wood poster
Back at the National Theatre for Under Milk Wood

It was much anticipated partly because it's my first trip to the National since before the pandemic, in part because I haven't seen Michael Sheen on stage since Hamlet at the Young Vic and partly because I've never seen Under Milk Wood before.

The play is framed in a care home setting, the Milk Wood story, to help an elderly man with dementia remember. We are transported to Welsh fishing village Llareggub (bugger all backwards 🙂) at night, where the residents sleep, their dreams revealed by the narrator (Michael Sheen).

We then follow them into the day and their inner thoughts, which reveal their true feelings - longing, revenge, desire, hope, contentment, frustration, joy and more.

The extraordinary and ordinary

Their thoughts are an extraordinary, emotionally colourful soundtrack to the ordinariness of their day. A day punctured by routine and often mundane tasks.

Michael Sheen's narrator tells us their thoughts using Dylan Thomas' vivid, lyrical language, sometimes with the ensemble playing along as the villagers, sometimes not.

And this is where my experience of watching the play was mixed.

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