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Skin in the Game

“Unflinchingly bleak”

Three estranged siblings are forced to come together to sell their father’s flat for his care home bills. As well as the long-standing tensions between them, there’s something extra nasty under the sofa.

Paul Westwood’s play takes place in a living room filled with worn beige furniture, a soiled beige carpet and peeling beige walls. It isn’t an environment in which anyone or anything is likely to thrive. Even the Jammie Dodgers have gone off.

This sweary Birmingham-set family drama is the first full-length play by Westwood, who also plays gambling-addicted younger brother Jamie.

Pathologically aggressive eldest sibling Danny (Charlie Allen) is toxic masculinity personified and he physically and verbally dominates the proceedings. Kathryn O’Reilly’s gruff, filter-free sister Michelle, an exhausted single mum, breaks up the some of the grimness with anecdotes about her children’s misbehaviour. The pallid and twitchy Jamie, a loser in all senses, is a rather passive figure, though that’s fitting given he’s in the grip of addiction.

Some of the plotting is a little confusing and the flashback final act fees awkwardly tacked-on – but the character of dad Phillip (a nuanced David Whitworth) at least offers a glimpse of where Danny gets his aggressive tendencies from. While Jamie’s gambling addiction is the catalyst to the plays narrative, it ultimately takes a back seat to Danny’s brutishness.

The piece’s naturalism ultimately gives way to gun-slinging melodrama, but it’s a compliment to the all-consuming claustrophobia of Clemmie Reynolds’ production that it’s a relief to leave.

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Production Details
Production nameSkin in the Game
VenueOld Red Lion
StartsAugust 20, 2019
EndsSeptember 14, 2019
Running time1hr 20mins
AuthorPaul Westwood
DirectorClemmie Reynolds
Set designerEmily Megson
Costume designerEmma Ntinas
Lighting designerAlex Mcnally
Sound designerAlex Mcnally
CastCharlie Allen, David Whitworth, Kathryn O'Reilly, Paul Westwood
ProducerGreenwich Theatre, Jih
VerdictUnflinchingly bleak portrait of a dysfunctional family that suffers from structural inconsistencies
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Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

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