A clothes-optional performance at Stockwell Playhouse Theatre, London
It was with some trepidation that I approached the clothes optional performance of SKIN DEEP at the Stockwell Playhouse. I have reviewed shows at some very peculiar venues and sat on all kinds of seating including sandbags, but I have always worn clothes. How would I manage with my notebook without a good lap to rest it on? In the event, of course, I undressed and sat on a theatre seat and wrote in my notebook as usual. The theatre holds 181 people and was almost full on the 27 April which was the only night when nudity was encouraged. Most of the audience was completely nude with just a few in some kind of clothing. Many in the audience are BN members and when I spoke to them they came from a variety of places. One had come from Birmingham specially to see the show, others are members of clubs and a lot just read about it on social media or via the BN members’ forum. It was good to see a scattering of females although the audience was substantially male – young and middle-aged, just a couple of seniors around. I was delighted to observe a long queue for the Gents toilets as I waltzed straight into the Ladies’!
And so …on to the show. There are four young men, William Frazer, Adam O’Shea, Nick Brittain and Daniel Timoney, together with a well-endowed and attractive young woman known as Diana played by Shani Cantor, who examine our attitude to our bodies. The patter and songs look at issues covering body image. They talk about when they were young – one of the young men had severe spots, another speaks about not being chosen for the football team while one complains about being too fat.
There are some very good songs which illustrate the performers’ concerns. I particularly liked Size Doesn’t Matter. Love Me for Who I Am is moving while My Foreskin and Me is most amusing. This latter song follows a close examination (on a screen) of the lower part of Michelangelo’s David. Director and Choreographer Adam Scown manages his performers expertly and is well served by the cast. The young men sing pleasantly and dance - in a variety of styles - extremely well. Shani Cantor has a great voice and puts across her songs with lots of feeling and meaningful glances at the audience. Words and music are by Chris Burgess and he has a good line in innuendo and sexual asides. The references to nudism and gay jokes went down particularly well with this audience. The set design is good with excellent lighting on display.
The performers are quite camp with some explicit displays. There is a well-danced and amusing number where the males hold giant fans in strategic positions which the audience really appreciated. The grand finale with the actors prancing around as nature intended is well worth the price of the entrance ticket. The show should please most people and if you can catch another clothes optional performance such as the one at the Edinburgh Fringe, so much the better!
Find out more about the show and future dates. Every venue is allowing BN Members to use the concessionary discount code.