SKIN IN FLAMES
by Guillem Clua translated by DJ Sanders.
Park Theatre (Park 90) Clifton Terrace Finsbury Park To 6 June 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3.15pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7870 6876.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 May.
Misuse of power play has muted force.
.Hotel bedrooms tend to show-up the weak side of politically powerful men. In Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop a rather basic room shows Martin Luther King’s sexual feet of clay. Now, Spanish playwright Guillem Clua reveals the hollowness of fictional photo-journalist Frederick Salomon, back to be awarded a million dollar prize by the country where his name was made two decades before through a snap of a girl sent flying when a bomb exploded.
Much of the play uncovers Salomon’s shortcomings, not least in the way this photographer of the world’s sore points complains his bedroom isn’t up to scratch. He may be disappointed the democratic government that’s rewarding him can’t do better, but the younger woman journalist entering to interview him has more serious concerns.
The nature of the supposed democracy is one; Salomon’s detachment from the moment that made him famous – and, it turns out, her involvement with it – being another; for every person made famous by history, another suffers unheard.
Then the famous photographer finds himself involved in another kind of shot. The exploitation of women by men is reinforced by a UN doctor who demands oral sex in return for supplying a mother with medicine for her sick daughter.
The men’s meeting as they prepare for the award-dinner contrasts the women’s room-bound isolation; even when the women actors are on stage together, their characters are in separate rooms; each relates only to a man. One, dressed for the sex forced on her is necessarily submissive. The other might be subservient in status were it not she is a girl with a gun.
Yet this mix of threat and politics remains earthbound rather than nail-biting. Direction lacks pace and intensity, missing the trick of matching character and theme to plot. And while the women are played with a direct watchfulness – Bea Segura’s reserved manner in particular suggesting a concealed side to Hanna – the male characters remain simplistic.
This blunts the attack on the hypocrisy that’s complicit with their arrogance or venality. Combined with the dimmed-down visceral excitement it makes for a respectful rather than searing experience.
Frederick Salomon: Almiro Andrade.
Hanna: Bea Segura.
Dr Brown: David Lee-Jones.
Ida: Laya Marty.
Directors: Silvia Ayguadé, Franko Figueiredo.
Designer: Valerie Kaneko-Lucas.