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Her Naked Skin, by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

July 30th, 2008 (11:33 pm)

current location: W14

Incredible as it may seem, this is the first play by a living woman to be performed at the Olivier stage in the National Theatre. It's perhaps appropriate that this should be a play about the womens' suffrage movement.

Unfortunately while the play impresses, it also disappoints. Perhaps understandably for our age, which seems more interested in individuals than in collectives, initial focus on the suffrage cause is lost and the play concentrates on the psychological flaws of the fictional lead characters, who embark on a lesbian affair. This seems like a relationship drama by numbers, too often. Extremely strong performances from Lesley Manville, Jemima Rooper and especially Susan Engel help; but the men (particularly the historical politicians) are written weakly, and one is left questioning whether the militant suffrage movement achieve very much except give repressed personalities an outlet.