top of page

Review: SealSkin at Liverpool Everyman ****1/2

When Liverpool’s Tmesis Theatre isn’t creating endlessly inventive stage spectacles it’s running Physical Fest – a bi-annual celebration of physical theatre.

Those two worlds collide in this beguiling new production, SealSkin, which is being premiered at the Everyman as part of this year’s festival.

And in fact, two worlds also collide in the story, based around the (mostly Scottish and Norse) myth of the selkie - shapeshifting creatures that are said to appear at a full moon to strip off their seal skin, take the form of humans and dance on dry land.

Devised by the Tmesis team and directed with a gossamer light touch by Elinor Randle, SealSkin tells the tale of an un-named coastal village (albeit one which appears to have Mediterranean/Portuguese vibes) where one night a fisherman (Samuel Perez Duran) spies a quartet of selkies frolicking in the moonlight.

Captivated, he seizes an opportunity and steals one of the stripped selkie skins, and as the others plunge back into the waves its owner is left, in vulnerable woman form, keening on the shore.

Tmesis describes SealSkin as a story of ‘betrayal, power, otherness and loss’. It could also be described of course in more prosaic terms as a tale of theft, abduction and coercion as the fisherman returns to carry the selkie (an excellent Faye McCutheon) off home as an extra prize.

However you might describe the narrative, it's an absolutely enchanting piece of theatre.

Visually and aurally it’s a real beauty; atmospherically lit and simply but effectively staged using a combination of basic props and draped, rippling fabric overlayed by Noel Jones’ effective projection design.

Meanwhile acoustic folk duo Me + Deboe have created an evocative soundscape of music and songs which they perform live from one side of the stage.

As with other Tmesis work, a vein of humour also runs through proceedings, with Mariana Peres’ gimlet-eyed, monosyllabic mother driving the comedy moments, whether it be berating her feckless fisherman son or in her encounter with a non-too-holy priest (Jaq Walker).

While there are selkies who live on land – albeit on the edges of the community (Stephanie Greer), it seems assimilation is only skin deep and the yearning of McCutheon’s captured creature is not ultimately to be placated with a life of human home and hearth.

There’s a final chance to catch SealSkin tonight although if you miss it there are, happily, suggestions it may tour later in the year.

Photo by Bruno Pereira


bottom of page