Assembly Hall, Mound Place, Edinburgh
After last year’s The Power Behind the Crone (which we awarded an Edfest Theatre Bouquet), we know that Alison Skilbeck is a truly gifted player, and are keen to see her latest offering. Are There More of You? is another one-woman show, this time a series of four loosely connected monologues, and it’s a masterclass in character acting.
We first meet Claire, an ambassador’s wife, recently returned to the UK from Morocco. But their shared retirement plans have been scuppered by his revelation that he’s leaving her, and Claire is struggling to build a new life for herself.
Then there’s Sofia, who owns the trattoria down the road from Claire’s art class; she has big ambitions for the café’s future, but family problems keep getting in the way.
Sara is a “spirit weaver”, and she has a lot to say about the people that she treats. When her old school friend, Sam, a successful business woman, finds herself drunk and alone in Sofia’s trattoria, she sets aside her scepticism and calls on Sara for some spiritual healing.
Skilbeck segues between characters with almost indecent ease; she is a chameleon, transforming before our eyes. There’s not much in the way of props or costume to assist her: she simply adds a headband, shakes her hair loose, changes her jacket or puts on an apron. But her face sags or tightens, her jawline tenses, her lips purse, her shoulders drop, her hand gestures become expansive: she looks somehow completely different; each woman is distinct. Her voice changes too, from prim and clipped to a gravelly drawl, and it’s all so subtle, so nuanced, so precise – I am in awe. Every ambitious young actor at this Fringe should make a point of seeing Skilbeck’s show; it’s an object lesson – and a delight.
Her writing’s good too. There’s a Bennett-esque appeal to these four pieces: a gentle humour permeates throughout, and there’s warmth and fondness for the characters.
So, if you’ve an hour to spare one morning, why not head up to the Assembly Hall and watch this marvellous production? It really is something special.