Bare Skin on Briny Waters

Bare Skin On Briny Waters is part of the Hull Takeover of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is one of five plays presenting from the 2017 UK City of Culture. It is Bellow Theatre’s salt-water-smelling story about storytelling, survival and female selfhood. The set is beautiful – a circle of broken mirrors on the floor that gently reflects and shimmers on Pleasance Bunker One’s back wall. It is a physical fragmentation that itself reflects the fragmentary stories of Annie and Sophie, two women whose lives interweave intermittently, and who unravel their stories over the course of the hour in passages of monologue.

A well-staged, dynamic production that questions how far we can or should self-determine, and the difficulties and duties of love.

The acting was subtle, understated and engaging, and the audience was confidently and directly addressed. Charlie Sellers, as Annie, was particularly strong, bringing gentle humour to her passages about work in the fish industry, and successfully conveying the frustration of being ‘fine’. Seemingly a paradox, Sellers used Annie’s character to explore the feeling of being trapped in a state of stasis, even whilst being in a ‘good’ relationship, a ‘good’ job, in a ‘good’ home. It was an articulate and honest inquisition into that catch-22 so familiar to everyone: of wondering ‘what if?’ and ‘is this it?’ Bare Skin, then, is a story about discovering the story of one’s selfhood, and about reclaiming and redirecting that self.

Blue-green lighting complimented and cultivated the atmosphere (admittedly aided by the production’s earthy location), and the original music, played live on an acoustic guitar, was Laura-Marling-esque, as it interspersed behind and between speeches with delicate ease. Bare Skin On Briny Waters is a well-staged, dynamic production that questions how far we can or should self-determine, and the difficulties and duties of love. It asks for ‘a dawn filled with stories instead of silence’, and is a vindication of the power of speaking those stories aloud.

Reviews by Alice Carlill

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The Blurb

Annie finds herself on a clifftop. She says she's fine but she can't quite get her story straight. Sat by her side, Sophie covers the bruises on her neck. She thinks everything might just be alright, because it's amazing what you get used to, isn't it? Underscored with live folk music, Bare Skin on Briny Waters is a story about survival and escape. It's about two young women standing on a cliff edge, steadily being blown on an unexpected course. 'Gently poetic salt-tinged story-telling' (Lyn Gardner). From Bellow Theatre, a Hull-based new-writing company.