Her Naked Skin

Her Naked Skin

"Her Naked Skin" is a 2008 play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. It is notable as the first play by a female writer to be produced on the main stage (the Olivier Theatre) at the Royal National Theatre, where it premiered on 24 July 2008. The premiere was directed by Howard Davies. In an interview, the National's director Nicholas Hytner stated " [Rebecca's] new play ... will take its place in the Olivier rep alongside work by Shaw, Middleton and Tony Harrison. But what is astonishing is that this will be, as far as anyone can recall, the first play ever by a woman writer to be seen on the National's biggest stage." [cite news|first=Michael|last=Billington|authorlink=Michael Billington|url=http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/drama/story/0,,2242108,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront|title='This will horrify my colleagues'|work=The Guardian|date=17 January 2008|accessdate=2008-09-01]


The play is set during British women's struggle for the vote in the early 20th century, beginning with a suffragette committing suicide at the Derby and ending with the outbreak of World War One. It is centred around a love-affair between two fictional suffragettes, one upper-class (played by Lesley Manville) and the other working-class (played by Jemima Rooper).


In a National Theatre programme note, Lenkiewicz has written "I used to work at the National Film Theatre as an usherette and on my breaks I'd often go out to the river with a cup of tea and scour the bookstalls under Waterloo Bridge. One large paperback volume "Shoulder to Shoulder" cried out to me to be bought. It was by Midge Mackenzie and was a documentary account of the suffragettes. It was a battered copy and cost a tenner...and from devouring that book came my urge to write about the period and a desire to put those women into the foreground once more; their bravery and brilliance." [Rebecca Lenkiewicz, programme note for "Her Naked Skin"]


Most of the critical reaction to the premiere was good, managing four stars in the "Evening Standard", "Guardian", "Independent" and "Time Out" and three in the "Times" [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2008/aug/02/theatre1|title=Review - Her Naked Skin|first=Michael|last=Billington|authorlink=Michael Billington|work=The Guardian|date=2 August 2008] [cite news|url=http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre/reviews/first-night-her-naked-skin-olivier-national-theatre-london-img-srchttpwwwindependentcoukmultimediaarchive000154stars15782ajpg-alt4-stars-height10-width56-882722.html|title=Her Naked Skin|first=Paul|last=Taylor|work=The Independent|date=1 August 2008] [cite news|url=http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/show-23400506-details/Her+Naked+Skin/showReview.do|title=Her Naked Skin - review|date=25 July 2008|first=Liz|last=Hoggard|work=Evening Standard] [cite news|first=Dominic|last=Cavendish|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/08/04/btnaked104.xml|title=Her Naked Skin: rapture and pain among the Suffragettes|work=The Telegraph|date=4 August 2008] [cite news|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article4479544.ece|title=Her Naked Skin - review|work=Sunday Times|date=10 August 2008] , though the critic from "The Times" criticised what he saw as the caricaturing of the male characters. [cite news|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article4452947.ece|title=Her Naked Skin - review|work=The Times|date=4 August 2008|first=Benedict|last=Nightingale] Some critics also felt the lesbian love affair was concentrated on at the expense of the historical background [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2008/aug/26/theatre.women|title=Sex and the suffragette|first=Viv|last=Groskop|date=26 August 2008|work=The Guardian] [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/28/women1|title=Letters - Naked truths and the suffragette movement|date=28 August 2008|work=The Guardian] [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/sep/01/women.theatre|title=Letters - Theatrical spectacle and the suffragettes' real achievements|date=1 September 2008|work=The Guardian] , though some have argued against such as criticism [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2008/aug/30/theatre|title=Letters - Theatre can still touch a nerve|date=30 August 2008|work=The Guardian.]

Premiere cast and crew


*Emily Wilding Davison - Zoe Aldrich*
*John Seely/ Hunt - Julien Ball
*Herbert Asquith - David Beames*
*Doctor Klein/ Augustine Birrel - Ken Bones
*Flower Lady - Elicia Daly*
*Ensemble - Joe Dunlop
*Florence Boorman - Susan Engel
*Mrs Briggs - Stephanie Jacob
*Wardress - Ruth Keeling*
*Doctor Vale - Dermot Kerrigan*
*Mrs Major - Barbara Kirby*
*Felicity - Anna Lowe*
*Doctor Parker - Nick Malinowski*
*Celia Cain - Lesley Manville
*Edward Grey - Simon Markey*
*Mrs Schliefke - Pamela Merrick
*Charlie Power - Gerard Monaco
*Guard - Edward Newborn*
*Miss Brint - Harriette Quarrie*
*William Cain - Adrian Rawlins
*Eve Douglas - Jemima Rooper
*Nurse - Stephanie Thomas*
*Brown/ Potter - Tony Turner
*Keir Hardie/ Cecil - Robert Willox
*Mrs Collins - Deborah Winckles*

* = Also credited as Ensemble


*Director - Howard Davies
*Designer - Rob Howell
*Lighting Designer - Neil Austin
*Projection Designer - Jon Driscoll
*Music - Harvey Brough
*Sound Designer - Paul Groothuis


External links

* [http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/nakedskin Her Naked Skin - National Theatre homepage]
*cite news|url=http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre/features/lesley-manville-love-sex--suffragettes-880232.html|title=Lesley Manville: Love, sex & suffragettes|work=The Independent|date=30 July 2008
*cite news|url=http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article4304535.ece|title=Jemima Rooper's Naked Skin|first=Stephen|last=Armstrong|work=The Times|date=13 July 2008

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