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Skin of the Teeth review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘a promising oddity’

Daniel Holme in Skin of the Teeth
Daniel Holme in Skin of the Teeth

Anna Beecher’s new play Skin of the Teeth is distinctive, dystopian piece about a young man who feels no fear. He has no idea of what it is to feel afraid. He never flinches; he has no “shudder.” He wants to learn though. He wants to be complete. His quest sees him fall in with a group of men, led by the sinister Mr Bacon, who promise to help him, to test him.

Beecher’s writing has a clean quality to it. It is full of precise and striking images: green gloves, red blood, white light. Teeth feature prominently. There’s a brilliant sequence in which the young man’s fearlessness is the subject of an experiment.

Philip Ridley feels like a key influence on the writing but Beecher has her own poetic voice. She has a strong grip on the mythic qualities of the tale, lacing it with elements of horror, but the piece feels a little stranded on the stage.

Daniel Holme is casual and open-faced as the boy without fear, there’s something suitably askew about him. Rachel Lincoln’s production, however, suffers from the things that bog down many a solo show. It’s static and lacking in dramatic texture. The plot gets tangled towards the end. The whole thing becomes murkier and harder to follow, as the protagonist ends up in an abandoned shopping mall with a pack of knife-wielding men, determined to do the thing that might finally make him quake. But even though it loses its way, it’s still a piece full of promising oddity.

Verdict
Dark, distinctive new writing from an intriguing new voice
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