Friday, 5 February 2016

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company and the return of "Skin Deep" Cygnet New Theatre Exeter Friday 5 February 2016

The Old Firm
Substance & Shadow Theatre Company
Cygnet New Theatre, Friday 5 February

Nathan Simpson is Alex
Midge Mullin is Jem
Three years after the première of "Skin Deep" at the City Gate Hotel, Substance and Shadow Theatre Company have brought the play back to Exeter for four nights as part of a tour of the South West. (See review of the redux at the Exeter Ignite Festival - Bikeshed Theatre 8 June 2013)

This year, after playing the Barbican in Plymouth, and the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol, Substance and Shadow returned to Exeter for a four-night run at the Cygnet New Theatre - and their old home, the cellar bar of the City Gate Hotel on Exeter's Iron Bridge.

Once again Nathan Simpson is Alex, the more successful stay-at-home 'brother' of Jem, played by Midge Mullin. The recreation of their close but antagonistic acting relationship is precise - renewed seemlessly after three years - unlike the relationship between the two characters they play, after their three year separation.

Mike Gilpin is Sam
Rosie Mullin is Pearl
Mike Gilpin, as the malleable Sam (or 'Biro' as he is disparagingly called), is still master of the Rubik's Cube, but not of his own life. Brighter than he seems, he is still not bright enough to stay out of trouble.

Rosie Mullin, as the enigmatic outsider Pearl, observes and interacts. Her distance and impartiality lend perspective and depth to this provincial tale of insecurities and prejudice.

This production is as sharp and arresting as ever. The four main players interact with balletic precision. They create a great dramatic tension, even for those who are familiar with the story. Jill Coley was replaced by Tracey Norman as Alex and Sam's Grandmother (originally an off-stage character, but subsequently introduced in the flesh to wind up any loose ends). Nan's concluding monologue stands alone as a homage to the endurance of a single mother in post-war Britain.

The run continues at the Cygnet tomorrow night (Saturday 6 February) at 7.30pm, before moving to the City Gate Hotel on Monday and Tuesday night at the slightly later time of 8pm.

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company
"Skin Deep" 2013
Jill ColeyMichael Gilpin
Rose Mullin
Nathan Simpson
Midge Mullin
1. Cygnet New Theatre
Friday/Saturday 5/6 February 7.30pm
2. City Gate Hotel (Cellar Bar)
Monday/Tuesday  8/9 February 8pm
          "SKIN DEEP"
Jem: Midge Mullin  Pearl: Rose Mullin
Alex Coombes: Nathan Simpson
Samuel Coombes: Michael Gilpin

Mrs Coombes: Tracey Norman
Tickets: Cygnet £8.50 City Gate £7
Online Booking for Cygnet: Fri/Sat
City Gate: tickets on the door
Press Release from Rosie Mullin

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