This Skin Of Mine’s bold and uncomfortable tone sets the narrative for many of the performances showcased at the Liverpool Theatre Festival of New Works – a sort-of preliminary for the Liverpool Theatre Festival that returns from September 1st-12th.
Barry and Sarah, the estranged siblings that the whole performance is centred around, each have previously unsaid things to say to one another, and they’ve chosen their mother’s deathbed as the arena in which to say them.
This already provides a classic set-up for some poignant, monologue based performance, however director Kai Jolley’s role as a writer within the queer community allows him too touch on topics and stories that we may not have heard as often.
One of the two siblings, Barry, has transitioned while she was away, giving Sarah an opportunity to express the initial confusion, then acceptance, that comes with finding out you actually have a sister much later on in life.
The performance is not judgemental though; it gives a space to allow Sarah to express her confusion at first, but also shows the power of learning to love and accept someone, even if you don’t quite understand them yet.
As Barry tries to help Sarah understand as best she can, it does reveal some of the more uncomfortable realities within the trans community. Whilst Jolley has allowed the characters to approach this topic in a funny and candid way, there are unfiltered moments detailing the abuse the trans community can receive, even from their own family, which makes this performance all the more powerful and unsettling.
Other topics touched upon, such as racism and domestic abuse, are also approached tastefully but unflinchingly. What holds the piece together is that these topics, as importantly as they are treated, are all tied together with a blend of wry humor that makes the piece feel more human, rather than just a series of topics being explained.
The performance ends on a happier, comical note in some ways, however still leaves a lot of questions lingering in the audience’s mind, questions that are best left with you to dwell on in the upcoming days.
Liverpool Theatre Festival is set to return in 2021 from 1 – 12 September with St Luke’s Bombed Out Church as the festival hub.
Written by Jamie Tichborne