Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Skins and Hoods, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Billy Barrett
Gustave Akakpo’s surreally allegorical French drama about racial tensions and diasporic identities is transposed from the banlieues of Paris to the streets of Glasgow in this adaptation by Scottish playwright Katherine Mendelsohn.
In a magical realist premise, nine-year-old George reveals that her black skin is not her own – she found it on the floor of an abandoned house, and zipped it on because she liked it. When she goes home, she takes it off and slips on a Caucasian one. Her absent-minded, negligent mother is none the wiser.
The shedding of George’s skin to reveal a silvery, all-over morph suit underneath provokes an audible gasp from the audience – it’s one of several surprisingly impressive technical touches in this multimedia production by director Matthieu Roy. The projected film – which maps the jeering, bullying local white kids on to the black walls where they hurl abuse at George and her friend Mamadou – is equally effective, complementing a powerful performance from Moyo Akande as the confused, isolated young heroine.
But whilst its unsettling strangeness seems to promise a political and psychological complexity in the opening scenes, Akakpo’s piece appears to settle on the rather bland truism that we’re all the same underneath our skin.
Institut Francais d’Ecosse (venue 134), until 31 August, 2pm
Published in The Scotsman on 25 August 2015
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