A brand new theatre has opened in London, and its pretty damn cool. The Bunker was set up by Joel Fisher and Joshua McTaggart in an unused carpark underneath the Menier Chocolate Factory. We certainly thought it was gonna be a bit more, well, car parky, but in fact they have done wonders to create an open and interesting theatre space with three sides of audience. The left side was particularly cool with its rows of “I’m a boss” leather chairs.
And so their first piece of programming was some new writing from young American playwright, Isley Lynn. Skin a Cat opened at the Vault festival this year and was spotted by Joshua as the perfect opening show for this new theatre. We are led on a hilarious yet poignant journey through a girl’s sexual awakening and experiences as she struggles with vaginismus. Lydia Larson plays the protagonist, Alana, who leads us through her sweet and sad memories. We encounter the boys who do not understand her, the friends to whom she cannot reveal her anguish, and her mother who seems to be at the root of all the problems. Jessica Clark, recently in Rotterdam, provides a brilliant supporting role playing the women in this tale whilst Jassa Ahluwalia is equally excellent as the men. Both actors do a great job multi-roling theses additional characters.
Alana is the real centre of this story and we feel her every pleasure and pain, thanks to the truthful and open storytelling that Lydia provides us as she takes us on this journey through Alana’s womanhood and sexual discovery.
Staged very simply, with all the action taking place on or around a bed, Alana spent most of her time here, whilst the two supporting actors, stood behind microphones, adding sound affects, from phone noises to club sounds, as well as the interjections of the other parts.
This was a very well executed play thanks to the writing and the realisation by the performers. Not only this though, it was certainly a story that could help a lot of young people understand more about sex, and that it is personal and idiosyncratic and that we are all unique when it comes to what we enjoy and want to do under the sheets.
This was a really great night of theatre, and a really exciting venue that we will look forward to visiting again. Their upcoming programming is intriguing and we are eager to return. Well done to the boys for creating this new space, in which brilliant drama like Skin A Cat can thrive.