Review: A ‘Skin & Bone’ with plenty of meat

 Drucie McDaniel (left) and Maureen Torsney-Weir in Azuka Theatre's production of the new play,

Drucie McDaniel (left) and Maureen Torsney-Weir in Azuka Theatre's production of the new play, "Skin & Bones." (Photo courtesy of Johanna Austin/austinart.org)

Down in the Florida panhandle, where the Old South still reigns, two sisters and their house rapidly decline. The ladies’ knees and arms are going, while ulcers have arrived. The roof of the former bed and breakfast that is their family home is splintered and caving in. So is their past.

One thing, though – these aging sisters still have appetites: for gossip, for put-downs, and for one of them, a churchman of another race. And yes, another appetite, a creepy one they cannot repress.

That appetite – no, I can’t spoil it – is the force that moves Philadelphia-based playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger’s “Skin & Bone,” a new play in a convincing world premiere by Azuka Theatre. It’s the second part of Goldfinger’s intended trilogy; the first, “the terrible girls,” was introduced by Azuka in the play title’s preciously uncapitalized state in 2011. I didn’t get a chance to see it, but after watching “Skin & Bone” I sure want to read it.

Goldfinger has a grasp of dialogue that tinges the play with Southern hues – her sisters are cheeky in their tsk-tsks over modern life and tenacious in their beliefs about a God who will overlook their weaknesses. As for condemnation, that’s already come – they have only days to leave their creaky home before local authorities demolish it.

Allison Heishman, the Azuka Theatre artistic associate, directs “Skin & Bone” with a clear vision of the weird sisters’ quirks and predicaments – the characters, distinct but with a common core, shine through. The sisters are played with precision by Drucie McDaniel and Maureen Torsney-Weir.

Amanda Schoonover is similarly on target as the young woman who comes to them seeking a sign of her past, and Nathan Holt nicely portrays the townsman who constantly fails in his efforts to serve the women with legal papers demanding they leave the house.

Their faded living room is an impressive high-ceilinged affair with a porch in the background, designed by Dirk Durossette. The setting itself is a subtle reminder that even the secrets this house holds cannot last.

_“Skin & Bone,” presented by Azuka Theatre, runs through March 23 at Off-Broad Street Theatre, Sansom Street near the corner of 17th Street. 215-563-1100 or www.azukatheatre.org.

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