Review: Skin A Cat, Bunker Theatre

 “Have I got chickens?”

Where else would a new theatre open but underneath an existing one?! The Bunker has taken up root in a converted car park under the Menier Chocolate Factory and for its first show, has co-opted Edinburgh hit Skin A Cat. Written by Isley Lynn, it tackles the subject of sexual embarrassment with an admirable frankness that you don’t often see.

Lynn particularly looks at vaginismus, something she freely admits comes from personal experience, through the character of Alana’s journey of sexual maturity. Vaginismus is a psychosomatic condition that makes sexual intercourse painful or even almost impossible due to muscle spasm during penetrative sex and through an uncompromising performance from Lydia Larson, we discover what impact such a thing can have for a young woman navigating her way through contemporary society.

She’s ably supported by Jassa Ahluwalia who plays all of the men who accompany this sexual awakening and Jessica Clark who plays the women who support her (or otherwise), both coping admirably with the fast-paced switch between a large number of characters. The format means that Lynn doesn’t always flesh out these subsidiary roles, concentrating on Alana where she could usefully explore some of these relationships in more depth and with a measure of subtlety that is missing in amidst all the frankness. But in cracking open a taboo subject and normalising the conversation around it, Skin A Cat is a bold work and a smart opening gambit from the Bunker.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 5th November

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