by Gary Henderson
director: Max Kirk
LAMDA, Carne Theatre
transfer to The Hope Theatre
show photos by Terry Smith
Skin Tight tells the story of a relationship- the fights, struggles and love between Tom and Elizabeth. Their story is mostly told through memories- when they met as teenagers, their farm in Canterbury, New Zealand, the painful repercussions of the war, infidelity and forgiveness, growing old together and saying goodbye.
Skin Tight was performed in traverse and in rep with True West with a 20 minute turnaround.
The design is based on the Waitaki, Tekapo and Pukaki rivers in New Zealand. The rivers were drawn in chalk and place names were added by Tom throughout the play. The rivers came from a black mountain structure that ran into the theatre wall and floor. I simplified the form of the rivers so that they looked ambiguous- the script references lightening bolts and veins drying up and so I wanted them to be able represent these ideas as well. A washing line hung across various points of the stage. This line was used by Elizabeth to hang clothes, but also acted as a method of telling the story of their daughter. The clothes she grew up in were hung in chronological order from her baby clothes to the outfits of her teenage years. When Tom celebrated his love for Elizabeth at the end of the play he turned on a string of festoon lanterns and lights were shone through pinpricks in the black mountain wall to represent a starry night sky.
I wanted the set design to be abstracted as it is a play that is mostly set in memory and recollection. Several elements reflect this- from the warped mountain wall to the ladder and washing line that continue to the roof of the theatre, into the darkness.