Review: Under Her Skin

© Sue Swift

There is an old English folktale about a young man who falls in love with a beautiful, blonde-haired woman, whose skin glistens milk white like marble. Her secret lies in her love of the ocean and an iridescent brown pelt… ‘Under Her Skin’ is a collaboration between storyteller and musician, incorporating lively strings and stomping boots with intrigue, mystery, and sorrow.

Debs Newbold and Laurel Swift have created a unique evening of entertainment, giving storytelling a new lease of life, and a new image. Swift plays the cello and violin during the 2-hour performance, providing the soundtrack and sound effects to this riveting, updated tale of love, loss, and magic, along with lively dancing reminiscent of a country knees-up around a fire. As the music begins to conjure images of a coastal house, rolling fields and circling crows, Debs Newbold starts to tell us a story. With a soft Birmingham accent, her voice drifts you into your imagination and paints the most incredibly vivid pictures of life on the cliffs and a bizarre family tale. The stage is washed in hues of red or blue, with no set and no distractions, making this performance entirely focused on the words and the music.

Interspersed with audience interaction and with an informal attitude towards lines, the fourth wall and ‘traditional’ theatre etiquette, ‘Under Her Skin’ is a wonderful exploration of theatre in an incredibly pure form – telling tales and making the audience believe. Those images of graceful seals, undulating rivers and a hopeful embrace will remain etched in my mind for a long time to come.


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