Skin A Cat (5 Stars)

Rive Productions and The Bunker presents

Skin a Cat by Isley Lynn

The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street London SE1 1RU
Wednesday 12
th October – Saturday 5th November 2016

Review by Richard Lambert 5 Stars *****

Written by Isley Lynn
Director Blythe Stewart
Designer Holly Pigott
Lighting Designer Harrison Routledge
Producer Zoe Robinson
Cast: Lydia Larson, Jessica Clark, Jassa Ahluwalia


skin-a-cat-the-bunker-2016-jessica-clark-lydia-larson-and-jassa-ahluwalia-courtesy-of-david-monteith-hodge_3(PRODUCTION IMAGES – Courtesy of David Monteith-Hodge)

Isley Lynn comments, “The Bunker are hitting the ground running by programming exciting, top quality, genuinely risky new work and I take it as a massive compliment to be the very first show there. Opening a new venue is always a big deal, but for us it’s a validation of all 2 the hard slog that’s gone into the project so far, mounting it with our own resources and pulling in favours – it feels as if it’s all paying off. Not only that, it’s also a validation for all the other Alanas out there, whose experience of sex and sexuality doesn’t match up with what’s on TV, in films, on stage and in books. Mine definitely didn’t which is why I wrote the play. And, sure enough, I wasn’t alone.”

This hard hitting play is Alana’s story. She can’t enjoy penetrative sex due to a lifelong vaginismus condition. Desperate attempts to overcome her painful sexual experiences are portrayed for our education in this adult themed play. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted and this 18+ audience seemed to enjoy it in direct proportion to their age. The older ladies guffawing a lot while some of the younger folk were content to giggle into their glasses of wine. This had to be the most eclectic audience mix for what felt like a play aimed at 20-somethings. Looking around there was young, old, arty, stylish, sophisticated, theatricals and everything in between. All thoroughly enjoying themselves.

While Alana (Lydia Larson) looked like my childhood memory of Kate Bush, it was a little disconcerting to watch her try to finger herself, insert a tampon for the 1st time, have penetrative sex, and go through man meets – all of which caused her great pain. Her Men (all “Men” expertly played by the very handsome and talented Jassa Ahluwahlia) not quite able to help her overcome her vaginismus.

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The play is really well cast!!! They all give terrific performances!

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Bearing in mind that The Bunker is in a converted underground car park with visible nods to the concrete structure, the Set Design (Holly Pigott) blended extremely well into the space. A single bed on a floor and stage rear of wooden panels painted in a concrete colour. Add some quilts, pillows and you’ve just about got it. It works well and looked great in this space! The Costumes failed to show the same consideration – blue denim dungarees for the 2 characters playing the men and women, and flesh underwear with ballet shoes for Alana. The man “under-dressed” a final costume but you could see the white under-leggings below the ankles which was distracting.

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On top of this play comes the true star of the evening. This is the Opening Play at The Bunker – “London’s newest off-West End theatre space and bar”. And what an incredible addition this is to London’s theatre scene! It feels like a new Park Theatre, modern and fresh, underground, but without the damp and odd smells of the Waterloo tunnels. With a  full metal grid for the lighting and new lighting outlets, control connections, electronic equipment racks and upto date control equipment the potential is huge. Seating capacity of 110 on new comfortable benches on 3 sides amphitheatre style and a bar exclusive to the theatre. Just 4 mins from London Bridge Underground you know this is a venue you’ll want to frequent. (Just beware and careful to follow Google Maps to The Bunker Theatre – there is a gay sex club in the area, also named The Bunker which might shock even this audience).

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(Photo courtesy of Andy Twyman)

The Opening Show at the Opening of this new venue went like clock-work. The only thing I didn’t like was queuing for the toilet block, Mixed Sex, so the Boys have to wait in line with the girls.

Joel Fisher and Joshua McTaggart are two young entrepreneurs behind the Bunker. It’s an incredible achievement. The live music after the show encouraged the audience to stay for another drink and to mill around socialising. The staff are welcoming, stylish and help make you think that this is the place to be! Joel and Joshua want to create a welcoming environment and if tonight is any indication they’ve nailed it and The Bunker is set to go from strength to strength.

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Joshua McTaggart and Joel Fisher
(Photo credit Simon Paris)

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Location The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street London SE1 1RU

How to get there The nearest tube station is London Bridge (Borough High Street exit). Turn left out of the station and continue up Southwark Street. The closest rail station is London Bridge.

Twitter: @BunkerTheatreUK

Box Office Tickets are available priced £19.50 (£15 concessions)

Ten £10 tickets are available at each performance for under 25
Available from http://bunkertheatre.com/ and 0207 234 0486.

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