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Skin Tight begins with its two characters physically fighting. They punch. They lunge. They twist. They flip. After violently smashing and slamming each other into the ground, they lie on the floor, pause, and kiss.
Under the swift direction of Nick Flint, the play, now at 59E59 Theaters, is a fiery and fantastical 60-minute exploration of what relationships are, have been, and can eventually become. It follows two lovers—Tom (Peter Saide) and Elizabeth (Sarah-Jane Casey)—as they look back on the time they’ve spent together, reminiscing about both the good and the bad. But on a simple and elegantly designed stage by James Hunting, the couple does more than just chat about Feelings. As they cycle through their memories, they dance, jab, embrace, make-out, and more. The constant changing of emotions is exhilarating.
The intense physicality blends nicely with Gary Henderson’s loosely structured script, which is full of purposefully vague dialogue. The characters explicitly state their feelings to one another, but these expressions are rarely very specific. Instead, they’re larger, overarching themes of love that could be applied to seemingly every relationship that’s ever happened in history. Moreover, there’s a strange underlying uncertainty to everything Skin Tight presents: Are these people real? Are they ghosts? Were they married? Why do their emotions transform so drastically? The answers don’t reveal themselves until the very end—and even then, questions still linger.
Watching all this develop and evolve might be chaotic and somewhat frustrating, but the mysteries surrounding the couple’s fears, doubt, and love are what allows the play to work—our questions and curiosity draw us in, to indirectly become a third member of the relationship. Saide and Casey both do a terrific job in their roles, but it’s this ambiguity of approach that makes Skin Tight succeed—because, really, do we ever truly know what the other person thinks in a relationship?