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Review: Skin In The Game, at the Old Red Lion

Set designer Emily Megson should a gold star

29 August, 2019 — By Briony Pickford

Kathryn O’Reilly stars in a challenging play at the Old Red Lion

Skin In The Game takes a hard look at how mental health, addiction and abusive relationships can be normalised in family settings.

It doesn’t make you leave the theatre jumping for joy, but it does send an important message; to listen and support those around you.

With only four cast members, barely one costume change and minimal props, the show relies heavily on the nuanced relationships of the characters: a drug addict sister, gambling brother, abusive heavyweight brother and a father who only enters the play in the last 20 minutes.

The casting is almost too perfect, with the female lead (Kathryn O’Reilly) being slightly underdeveloped and rather stereotypical – think an angry monotone mother who swears in between every word and screws her face up in response to any good comebacks.

However, it is effective enough and with the brothers’ very intuitive display of strained relationships, it all works out. Thankfully the script allows for the odd northern chatterbox joke to pop through, relaxing the tension once or twice throughout the show.

Set designer Emily Megson gets a gold star for creating an impressively evocative set with so little actual stuff.

Fight director Marcus Wood also deserves a shout out for training the actors to portray some very convincing scenes of manipulative and violent abuse. The script is a little two-dimensional, rarely trying any other form than monologue or argument.

Despite these small flaws, the show very effectively and sensitively addresses some very important issues.


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