Her Naked Skin

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Her Naked Skin is a 2008 play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. It is often incorrectly noted as the first play by a female writer to be produced on the Olivier Stage at London's Royal National Theatre where it premiered on 24 July 2008. In reality it is the third play by a female writer to be produced there, and the first original play by a female writer, as the first two were adaptations: Pam Gems's adaptation of The Seagull in 1991, and Helen Edmundson's Coram Boy in 2005.[1] The premiere was directed by Howard Davies. In an interview, the National's director Nicholas Hytner stated "[Lenkiewicz's] new play ... will take its place in the Olivier rep alongside work by Shaw, Middleton and Tony Harrison."[2]


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 I. It is centred on a love-affair between two fictional suffragettes, one upper-class (played in the premiere by Lesley Manville) and the other working-class (played in the premiere 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."[3]


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,[4][5][6][7][8] though the critic from The Times criticised what he saw as the caricaturing of the male characters. [9] Some critics also felt the lesbian love affair was concentrated on at the expense of the historical background,[10][11][12] though some have argued against such as criticism[13]

Original production - cast and creative team[edit]


* = Also credited as Ensemble

Creative team[edit]


  1. ^ Kellaway, Kate (29 June 2008). "Turning the Tables". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  2. ^ Billington, Michael (17 January 2008). "'This will horrify my colleagues'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  3. ^ Rebecca Lenkiewicz, programme note for Her Naked Skin
  4. ^ Billington, Michael (1 August 2008). "Review - Her Naked Skin". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  5. ^ Taylor, Paul (1 August 2008). "Her Naked Skin". The Independent. London. 
  6. ^ Hoggard, Liz (25 July 2008). "Her Naked Skin - review". Evening Standard. 
  7. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (4 August 2008). "Her Naked Skin: rapture and pain among the Suffragettes". The Telegraph. London. 
  8. ^ Wise, Louis (10 August 2008). "Her Naked Skin - review". Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Nightingale, Benedict (4 August 2008). "Her Naked Skin - review". The Times. London. 
  10. ^ Groskop, Viv (26 August 2008). "Sex and the suffragette". The Guardian. London. 
  11. ^ "Letters - Naked truths and the suffragette movement". The Guardian. London. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Letters - Theatrical spectacle and the suffragettes' real achievements". The Guardian. London. 1 September 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Letters - Theatre can still touch a nerve". The Guardian. London. 30 August 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010. .

External links[edit]