Second Skin Theatre Double Bill
Thursday 21st January 2010
Alain English saw “Stay With Me Til Dawn” and “Knuckleball”, both staged by Second Skin Theatre at the Rosemary Branch Theatre near Old Street, London on 20th January 2010.
Stay With Me Til Dawn by Graham Farrow
A young boy hides from his abusive father in the room of a troubled man with dark secrets…
This was an excellent piece of theatre that explored ideas of masculinity and isolation within society in a visceral and upfront way. It had a good point to make about the not always accurate impressions we create in our heads about other people, and turned popular stage stereotypes (the middle-aged deviant, the hardman) cleverly on their heads. It had a nicely ambiguous ending to it, that was open to chilling interpretation.
It was very well staged in the Rosemary Branch … accompanied by a pulsing undertone of music that helped create a tense, fraught atmosphere. The actors have been tightly directed, although I thought the stage violence needed some more sound to give it a little bit more impact.
The performances were excellent, notably Peter Glover as Redford who gives a bravely physical performance that keeps the audience guessing as his intentions either way. Matthew Haigh is at once playful and vulnerable as Nick, and while I thought David Swain could have added a touch more menace to his voice, he nailed the physicality and attitude of his character perfectly.
The play last over an hour but it flew by. A well-paced, exciting start to the evening.
Knuckleball by William Whitehurst
A young couple’s burgeoning relationship is turned upside down when a marriage proposal becomes the catalyst for some horrifying, life-changing revelations…
This latest piece by Second Skin co-founder William Whitehurst is brilliant, hitting you with the unexpected, with dark but entirely logical twists to the characters. The staging is excellent, capturing the wayward desolation of its characters and highlighting the play’s main theme – one’s life ends up in a mess when you don’t know who you are. It was very well lit, with an orange hue to the set that gave you the feeling that this was the kind of place where these sorts of conversation might happen.
The play hinged on great performances from Bryan Kaplan and Laura Pradelska. They made their characters plausible, playing off each other well and handling some well-written but still very difficult speeches with panache. In this, they handled the play’s darker ideas very well.
Fantastic, provocative theatre from Second Skin and hopefully a sign of more good things to emerge from the company this year.