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Posts Tagged ‘Penelope Skinner’

Penelope Skinner’s new play explores ‘body fascism’ through the life of Linda, a successful, award winning businesswoman. Though it takes a while to take off, and it didn’t quite sustain its 2h 40m length, it’s a worthwhile play exploring an important subject in a very interesting way.

Linda is Marketing Director for a cosmetics company and she’s responsible for making them global players and taking them in a new direction with anti-ageing products. Her boss and colleagues revere her and she’s happily married with two daughters. Then her life begins to fall apart. Her husband has a brief fling with a much younger girl. An ambitious and somewhat Machiavellian employee sets her up for an indiscretion and subsequently ensures it goes viral, just like she did for her daughter when they were both at school. Within this narrative there is a lot of stuff about attitudes to the female body, ageing and the way women are treated in comparison to men.  I felt some of the message was a touch heavy-handed and the play a shade melodramatic in tone, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Es Devlin has created another of her extraordinary designs, this time a multi-level revolving white structure which sits in a pool of water and contains multiple rooms at home and office. I think it’s meant to symbolise the company’s name – Swan – whose motto is ‘Changing the world, one girl at a time’. The all pervading muzak and bright glitzy corporate look are just as cringe-worthy as the motto. This design has given director Michael Longhurst full reign for an imaginative staging which gets dramatically expressionistic towards the end.

Linda is a big part and Noma Dumezweni only had a week to learn it. She sometimes refers to pieces of script, but this hardy distracts as she carries them like normal documents at work and home. It’s a Herculean task which she pulls off with great style to give a fine performance. I was also impressed by Amy Beth Hayes ice cool turn as her nemesis Amy.

Though it has its flaws, it’s amongst the best of the Court’s recent crop of new main house plays.

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The second of Paines Plough’s three new plays in their mobile Roundabout auditorium at the atmospheric (old) Shoreditch Town Hall is lighter than the first but just as entertaining.

Penelope Skinner’s piece is a chandleresque story of a private investigator engaged to find Maggie’s friend Foxie. All is not what it seems and to say too much more would probably be a spoiler (though the London run has ended). It’s tongue its firmly in its cheek and when you’re not laughing, you’re smiling.

As with Lungs, there’s no set or props, but this one has four actors. Andrew Sheridan is outstanding as the PI, getting the right combination of earnestness and nerdiness. Kate O’Flynn and Alistair Cope are back (in smaller roles, though one has a surprise up their sleeve) and they are joined by Maia Alexander who make s a very good job of shy nerdy Maggie.

I thought the final scene went on a bit, but overall it was a nice piece of writing well performed. I missed the third in the season but I’ll make sure I don’t next time. This was a very welcome visit to London from Paines Plough.

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