Amanda Wilkin's exciting play offers hope for all
“But inside here the walls breathe…..
some people have lived here for more than a few decades
the cement is heavy with exchanges and loves and pains and yells and laughs, and newborn cries and secrets and
and, I now realise that I never had my eyes open in the last places I lived.”
Talk about “Young, Gifted and Black” first coined for Lorraine Hansberry and her play A Raisin in the Sun. and the UK has a new contender for this title. Amanda Wilkin.
Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award was judged for 2020 by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Russell T Davies (It’s a Sin), Lolita Chakrabarti (Red Velvet, Hymn), Laura Wade (Posh, The Watsons) and chaired by film and TV producer Stephen Garrett. From almost 1500 new plays entered, Amanda Wilkin’s Shedding a Skin was judged the winner.
Amanda Wilkin delivers her own play Shedding a Skin with such expression that her characters leap off the stage into your imagination. She captures the audience immediately with her description of some token exercise on the part of the company she works for. Myah is summoned to be photographed as a part of their few Black and multi-ethnic staff to prove the company’s inclusivity and diversity. Even the cleaner is there, “not in his teal uniform” but in a suit, but I’ll not spoil the writer’s denouement on this. Even at this bad taste exercise in public relations, she makes us laugh out loud with brilliant timing of astute witticisms and self deprecatory humour.
Carrying her few possessions from the office, Myah returns home to the houseboat where she lives with her boyfriend. He is unable to show her any empathy for what has happened at work, instead admonishing her. There will be another severance today. So no job, no boyfriend and nowhere to live, Myah may be at rock bottom but she has been true to herself and we like her for it.
After a few nights on settees or in her sleeping bag on the floors of friends, she answers a card on the board in Tesco for a flatmate for “a mature woman”. Old enough to be Myah’s grandmother, Mildred, originally from Jamaica, will make a deep impact on Myah’s life.
In Mildred’s flat, Myah will start off in a corridor set but slowly the fabric coating the wall panels will come down, to open up as Myah’s life starts to be reinvented and expand. Lit by Jess Bernberg, I notice lighting skill more with these one actor plays; the lighting is an extra cast member. Myah will get a job and find workmate Kemi whose first encouraging message is DFTBA or Don’t forget to be awesome!
Amanda Wilkin’s observation is detailed and quirky and she makes us smile. Mildred’s wisdom will help Myah to reconnect and for all of us to re-evaluate the warmth of human connection in times of isolation.
I hope Amanda Wilkin is working on her next play because I want to be one of the first to see it!
If you cannot get to see Shedding a Skin in person, it will be live streamed on 15th July 2021. Book here.
Shedding a Skin
Written and performed by Amanda Wilkin
Directed by Elayce Ismail
Director: Elayce Ismail
Designer: Rosanna Vize
Lighting Designer: Jess Bernberg
Sound Designer and Composer: Richard Hammarton
Projection Designer: Nina Dunn
Running Time: One hour 30 minutes without an interval
Booking at the Soho Theatre until 17th July 2021
Live streaming on 15th July 2021 Book Here
The Soho Theatre
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE
Phone: 020 7478 010000202
Website: Soho Theatre
Tube: Tottenham Court Road
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the Soho on 24th June 2021