The honesty with which Skin a Cat discusses problems that we girls hide (even from our best friends) is the biggest step forward I’ve seen this August.
Rive Productions’ Skin a Cat reminds me of many productions that would visit my school back in the day: simple scenography, topical, funny yet didactic. It’s undeniably better than anything else I’ve seen, though, on the topic of teenage – and especially female – sexuality. Although first performed 2016, the honesty with which Skin a Cat discusses problems that we girls hide even from our best friends is the biggest step forward I’ve seen this August.
The show follows Alana through her sexual life, from the first time she got her period to the time she finally accepted herself as a whole, sexually-satisfied woman. That journey was not easy nor short, with Alana having severe vaginismus. And although at the beginning we believe there is only one happy ending for Alana – a cure for vaginismus needs to be found – the jewel of the show is the ending, which embraces the differences in sexual experiences. Finally, it only matters whether the people involved enjoy the act – not what the society thinks of it.
Lydia Larson plays the main role of Alana and is helped by Libby Rodliffe and Joe Eyre, who take on a number of different roles throughout the play. Their versatility is a pure joy to watch as they change their voice, mannerism and energy within seconds. The trio, together with director Blythe Stewart and the rest of the creative team, show how a simple staging can go a long way and have more impact on the audience then the vast majority of grand-scale shows. Shows like Skin a Cat are why Fringe festivals exist.
This show deals strictly with sex but it is suitable for 14+, if you have an open dialogue with your children. The scenes use humour rather than any kind of obscenity (up to the point that I would not be embarrassed to see with my mum). Definitely worth catching this Fringe, or at least reading the text if you can’t manage to, it’s a mind-opener, a conversation-opener – and, in many respects, a necessity.