Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 1, 2013

Skin Deep

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through March 30, 2013
by Shera Cohen

“Skin Deep” might be labeled a “chick play.” That description works, but there is far more depth than froth. If such a term exists, perhaps “human play” is a better fit.

Photo By Lee Chambers
Playwright Jon Lonoff (never heard of him, but hopefully more of us will soon) has penned an adorable relationship story chock full of quick repartee, one-liners, and pungent words of wisdom. Neil Simonish in tone and text, Lonoff takes his characters steps further, from caricatures to real people. In the case of “Skin Deep,” the story is seemingly simple – 30 or 40-something Maureen Mulligan (Liliane Klein) and Joe Spinelli (Buzz Roddy) are about to have a blind date. Both actors exude the awkwardness, vulnerability, sweetness, and sadness of their characters. Klein, in the lead role and in every scene of the play, is a newbie to the Majestic. She is instantly likeable, particularly as she pokes fun at her ice cream loving full figure size. She is sarcastic with a sense of humor that is able to soften her own blows. Lonoff and Klein could have easily put Maureen in a very dark place, but that would have been an easy out. Instead, this is a woman with an equal share of doubt and hope for her future.

Danny Eaton, Majestic founder and “Skin Deep” director, gently takes his audience toward some profound issues of relationships, friendship, and love. He moves the Maureen/Joe story along slowly, yet bumpy. Initially appearing as a complete contrast to this duo are Sheila and Squire, Maureen’s sister and her husband. Sheila is the pretty one with the adoring husband. Life for them is easier than for Maureen. Maybe not? Cate Damon, a Majestic regular in one of her best roles to date, portrays Sheila as shallow, but in many ways she is as insecure as her sister.

This might seem unusual for a play review, but kudos to whomever writes the program book. Bios and photos of the production staff and crew are given equal space as the actors. Theatergoers can read about the creative team that brings the text come to life.