The Theatre and Music Theatre programs’ Class of 2007 displayed their creativity and ambition in its production of Naomi Iizuka’s “Skin,” a piece that significantly deviates from the traditional dramatic literary canon.
The play is a magically realistic piece, centered on a tragic collision of lives in a non-linear storyline. The simple dialogue did not lend itself to easy understanding, but the thought-provoking piece is worth the mental gymnastics that must be done to comprehend it.
While the actors deftly portrayed the constant struggle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the spirit, a paramount theme of the play, the meanings of some of the production’s Catholic undertones were lost in their portrayal.
Ben Naramore, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, played an outstanding Jones, keenly balancing the character’s seemingly conflicting traits with great poise. Throughout the play, his quest for meaning and significance is juxtaposed with shallow lives of those around him, one of whom is Mary, a woman who is unable to commit to one man and is more than willing to succumb to the desires of the flesh she warns her daughter about through scripture.
Mary, played by Meghan Kenny, a School of Communication and CAS senior, exists as a force of passion and impulse. However, Kenny’s performance lacks the drive that would vivify the character, leaving her somewhat flat. Neither her pursuits nor her retreats seem to have the fervor that her character’s actions require, and while Kenny convincingly renders Mary’s neediness, the dullness of other traits in Kenny’s performance makes the character flimsy and inconsistent.
Mary’s Girl, played by Stephanie Penet, a CAS senior, provides a constant measure of innocence throughout the play, though it is consistently secondary to the action of the piece. Penet’s voice breaks through the darkness of the play with both purity of pitch and emotion. Her steady melodic solos shed light into the darkness surrounding the crowd, providing momentary safety from the storms that ravage the other characters’ lives.
The blocking of the play also gives it an air of eeriness, as the actors often directly address characters as if they are looking straight at them when, in fact, the characters are behind them. The actors’ positions also force the audience to question the fundamental disconnects that occur in the characters’ interactions throughout the performance.
The set lends itself extremely well to the action of the play, easily adaptable and dark, it highlighted entrances and exits, fundamental emotional and thematic components of the show.
Overall, the play was a solid effort that highlighted the diverse talent and open-mindedness of the senior class. Iizuka’s piece was anything but ordinary, and it showcased the extraordinary potential the seniors will take into their professional careers.