Skins and Hoods, Institut français d’Écosse, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Cie du Veilleur
Gustave Akakpo (writer), Katherine Mendelsohn (translater), Matthieu Roy (director), Gaspard Pinta (stage design), Noémie Edel (costume), Manuel Desfeux (lighting), Mathilde Billaud (sound), Nicolas Comte (video), Alban Guillemot (technical director)
Moyo Akandé (George), Ashley Smith (kids 1-5, Shadow, George) Thierry Mabonga( Mamadou) Jennifer Black (George’s Mum)
Running time

To walk a mile in someone’s shoes is one thing but to share someone else’s skin is quite another.

In this piece, Togolese author Gustave Akakpo takes that metaphor and makes it real in an impressive dance between stage and screen where realities are suitably blurred. A young boy and girl are subject to some playground taunting by a hooded gang whose members are questioning the children’s origins in spite of their sounding just like they do.

Luminous filmic figures ghost from the black box space that immediately shakes the viewer’s sense of reality. The four strong cast is made to feel like many, particularly in the small space where the performance takes place, thanks to a clever use of a series of black screens. Silhouettes and spectres are symbolically shot in black and white through technically impressive projections set to some haunting sounds.

A dawning that someone who is ‘other’ can be beautiful with an intriguing ‘glow of moon skin’ is realized through shedding and sharing; understanding and interchanging; sharing and taking. The play’s universality lies in no country being mentioned by name only as ‘where I’m from’. Its strong message on émigrés, immigration and what it is for a person to belong by being bien dans sa peau can travel.

Katherine Mendelsohn has produced an impressive translation from the original text, Même les chevaliers tombent dans l’oubli, that first appeared at the 2014 Avignon Festival. This UK première comes to Edinburgh with an all-Scottish cast.

The duet from George (Moyo Akandé) and Mamadou (Thierry Mabonga) of Iggy Pop’s Passenger is a fine affirming end to this unusual piece of theatre that challenges perspectives both physically and mentally. Skins and Hoods is an experience worth having.

August 7-16, 18-23, 25-31 14:00 age recommend 12+