Shedding a Skin, Soho Theatre

photo by Helen Murray

by Laura Kressly

Whilst feeling uncertain and lost may well be something everyone goes through at least at one point in their life, thats no consolation in the moment. Everyone else seems to have purpose, direction and a place, and the sense of not having that can be debilitating. That’s certainly the case for Myah.

Myah is single, hates her job and has a flatmate she can’t quite figure out. She also doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life, or where she fits in. As Myah, Amanda Wilkin embodies the sense of not fitting in with her whole self. Trying to make herself small and quiet works for awhile, but she can only maintain this for a short time. Eventually, the white corporate world breaks her down, or her flatmate Mildred’s unsolicited commentary is just too much. Wilkin’s Myah can never seem to find a space that just feels right or easy, and forcing herself into other molds never ends well.

Yet, as much as Myah’s story is often one of misfortune and unhappiness, Wilkin’s natural comedy and delightfully watchable performance adds levity to Myah’s desperation and sadness. Whether it’s her negotiation of white spaces as a Black woman, or elderly Jamaican Mildred bollocking her for not having any sense of community, Wilkin’s expressive physicality and sharp delivery finds many unexpected moments of humour, whether they be in her portrayal of Myah, Mildred or the other people she encounters along the way. This is also embedded in the script, which Wilkin wrote.

As Myah improvises her way through the moments of her life that this monologue shares, the set gradually peels away and makes a much more open space, where it’s easier to move and breathe. Though seemingly simply constructed, Rosanna Vize’s design and Elayce Ismail’s direction use this theatrical element to underline Myah’s journey. It’s an effective reinforcement of the play’s themes.

Solo performances can feel slight with their typical focus on one person’s story, but there’s an expansiveness to this play that becomes much more apparent towards the end. A cathartic climax grounds Myah’s story in a much bigger world, and as much as we can feel like the star of our own show for better or for worse, this is a comforting reminder that what we do and who we are matters.

Shedding a Skin runs through 17 July, with a live stream on 15 July.

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