‘Skin’ was written, directed and performed by Humphrey Bower for Night Train Productions (WA First) a chamber theatre company with a focus on the art of storytelling. Humphrey Bower is a multi-award-winning actor, writer and director. ‘Skin’ was originally performed at La Mama in Melbourne, receiving nominations in the Green Room Award categories ‘Best Solo Performer’ and ‘Best New Writing for the Australian Stage’. Humphrey Bower has also received numerous awards including the prestigious 2010 Helpmann for Best Supporting Actor in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of ‘Richard III’.
‘Skin’ comes to you from the makers of ‘Wish’ - Winner of the Blue Room Theatre Members’ Choice for 2011 and the Blue Stone Award for Outstanding Individual Performance. Showing at the Blue Room main theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, 53 James Street, Northbridge until Saturday 12th May. All shows are at 7.00 pm, with an extra matinee on Saturday 12th May at 4.00 pm which will have Auslan interpretation.
Every time the storyteller goes to Melbourne, he calls to see an old friend, a retired hairdresser called Tony. On his last trip, after a warm welcome, Humphrey settles down on the kitchen chair, and as Tony snips away the two start to discuss their latest holidays.
Tony relates how he had gone for an adventurous, but restful holiday, to Vietnam. Good food and a sun tan was all he wanted. Very soon however, Tony found that the rest he was seeking turned into a nightmare.
Humphrey then went on to tell his lifelong friend of a recent trip he had to Kalgoorlie, followed by a journey to the even bleaker town site of Morgan. The welcome he got from the locals in this remote spot was to stay with him forever.
On a stage devoid of scenery or props – other than a chair - Andrew Lake’s lighting created a dozen ‘visible’ streets, a nightclub, a starlit bedroom they all came alive. It is not surprising that he was a Helpmann Award finalist in 2004, and nominated at the 2006 Green Room Awards. Throughout the 70 minutes of story telling, musician Leon Ewing, who has won 6 WA Music Industry awards, played a subtle but clever, live musical backing. Leon was Rod Stewart one minute, and the whispering sounds of the desert next. The scenario and mood were very powerful.
Despite having to keep a steady pace in his delivery and changing rapidly between the stories, Humphrey managed to portray a dozen very different characters, with a variety of accents including passages of Wangai. The act was filled with movement as he slinked, crawled, danced, ran, cowered, all beautifully choreographed by Sue Peacock. Not once did the audience become aware of his resulting exhaustion, the pace didn’t flicker and his engagement of the audience was unfailing. Humphrey has an innate skill of gripping the listener, whether to one person over the radio or to a theatre full of engrossed viewers, he holds his audience in wonder.
In the past I have found the odd story slightly dry or the theme perhaps a little gloomy, however here the two beautifully told tales were filled with excitement, laughs, sadness and suspense, being delivered with outstanding skill.
Could he again be the year’s most admired performer?
Hot Room Theatre Group
in association with Horizon Theatre presents