Directed by Roger Smart
Produced by Shattered Globe Theatre 2.0
At Stage 773, Chicago
Overlapping story lines about the Suffragette Movement and a lesbian love affair fizzles
The potential of Her Naked Skin to be a powerful theatrical event get mired into a lesbian love affair story after an encouraging start. We meet a mixed class of British women in 1913 who are militant in their determination to win the vote and equal rights in Edwardian England. They march, protest and create social havoc designed to get their political agenda in the news to influence the British Parliament to give women the right to vote. The focus of the early storyline is on Lady Celia Cain (Linda Reiter) and her group led by Florence Boorman (Melissa Riemer). They brake windows in order to get arrested and sent to Holloway Prison. There they go on hunger strikes to highlight their cause. We see how the British government force feeds food into their bodies to prevent any deaths.
While these events were dramatized, the suffragette story becomes a lesbian love affair as Lady Celia Cain, a middle aged wife and mother of five falls in love with a young seamstress, Eve Douglas (Shelia O’ Connor). Lady Cain’s powerful lawyer husband, William (Tim Newell) revert to drink as her becomes more and more alienated from his wife of many years.
After a promising start, Her Naked Skin becomes a slowly paced personal story revolving around Douglas and Cain. We don’t see enough of what happens to the Suffragette Movement as England gets into the Great War. We see that eventually Eve and Celia separate, that Celia never resolves her marriage problems, but we never know what happens to the women’s Movement? We are never told that the Suffragettes did actually stop their actions to be patriotic Brits during the war and that the women won their rights in 1918.
I found Her Naked Skin to be 2o minutes too long and the blend of the two stories short-changed the suffragette’s story. Linda Reiter and Shelia O’ Connor gave excellent performances. The ensemble work by the large cast was fine. Tim Newell had many terrific moments as the troubled husband. The production values, set design by Andrew Hildner with period perfect costumes by Lindsay Schmeling, served the production well.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: May 4, 2012
Fro more info checkout the Her Naked Skin page at theatreinchicago.com
At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-327-5252, www.shatteredglobe.org, tickets $18 – $34, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with intermission, through June 3, 2012