Gilded Balloon Teviot – Nightclub
Aug 12, 14-19, 21-27
***** (five stars)
‘Beauty is only skin deep’. This age-old adage finds significant resonance in today’s increasingly image-obsessed culture of social media and selfies, but also a society in which body positivity – the idea that all bodies are equal and should be celebrated irrespective of size, shape, or colour – has never been more important and visible. Skin Deep is a deeply reflexive musical-comedy which explores beauty, bodies, and the very human obsession with what it means to be beautiful, and the importance of having a positive body image and being comfortable in one’s own skin.
Skin Deep follows the lives of five characters, all of whom have their own conflicts with their bodies and ideas of personal beauty. Characters speak and sing about their deeply personal issues, which stem from the myriad of ways in which society idealises one particular version of beauty and the body. The characters’ body issues – and their subsequent dysphorias – vary from having acne or big ears to worries concerning weight or penis size. Certain musical numbers in the production are played strictly for laughs; for example, the whimsical ‘Size Doesn’t Matter’ and the crudely hilarious ‘My Foreskin and Me’ (both of which were met with uproarious laughter from the audience), while others such as ‘Only a Joke’ are a profound exploration of feeling discontent with one’s body and image. The show is a seamless blend of comedy and drama, the quintet of talented performers showing off their singing, dancing, and acting abilities in order to convey the complex emotions associated with bodies and what it’s like to feel insecure in one’s own skin.
The overall message of the show, never eclipsed by the side-splitting humour or eye-pleasing nudity, is that beauty really is only skin deep. True beauty comes from within ourselves, and Skin Deep is a poignant reminder that acceptance and celebration of ourselves and others is the most beautiful thing of all. Not only is that message beautifully written, but delivered with humour, energy, and spirit by an enormously talented ensemble. The 60-minute show is a fast-paced romp of wit and sentiment, culminating in a fitting climax of full frontal nudity à la The Full Monty. However, unlike the slew of shows which utilise nudity in their premise for the sake of gratuitousness, Skin Deep’s display of skin is entirely conducive to its message – we all have a body and, although there may be things we’d like to change, we need to learn the naked truth and love each part of ourselves, warts and all.