Bare Skin on Briny Waters review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘as beautiful as it sounds’

Bare Skin on Briny Waters Bare Skin on Briny Waters
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Hull-based Bellow Theatre’s Bare Skin on Briny Waters is as beautiful as it sounds. Tabitha Mortiboy and Maureen Lennon’s understated two-hander slots together a pair of tangentially intersecting monologues, then sets them against a backing of meandering acoustic guitar, played live by Mortiboy.

It’s the softer end of gig-theatre, the dramatic equivalent of a Laura Marling song: sad, sensitive, soulful and stirring. A howl of rage, whispered into the wind from a clifftop.

Staged simply on a circle of shattered mirrors, the show explores the lives of two women, both increasingly uncertain that they are living the lives they want. Sophie (Lennon, modest and morose) is halfway down the road already, unhappily married and quietly suppressing her anxiety in resonant dreams of Scheherazade.

Annie (a frank, feline Charlie Sellers) – just embarking on a life of admin and domesticity – has been granted a precious reprieve: her long-term boyfriend is in a coma. She’s not sure she wants him to wake up.

Mortiboy and Lennon’s writing – a tapestry of memories, stories and unfinished thoughts – has a slow-burning, plaintive anxiety about it. It’s eloquent too, the lapping waves of a vast ocean, articulating crushing truth with unshowy, uncontrived grace. A quietly devastating hour.

Two soft, soulful monologues beautifully interwoven to acoustic accompaniment from Hull-based Bellow Theatre