Psychodermabrasion: Review

“The colour of skin betrays the secrets of the inner constitution” (Michelle Lovric). This is part of a quote that was kindly provided for me by Matthew Floyd Jones (Frisky and Mannish), and which I read on the back of my programme.

And it was to be the running theme throughout Jones’ Psychodermabrasion (PDA) at Jackson Lane. The piece focuses not on what we see on the surface, but what is really going on underneath.

Focusing on a man who has suffered from severe acne and painful life experiences, Jones has scars to show and wants to cover them up with layers upon layers of makeup (or should I say shell suits) and music.

The Mannish to Frisky used his talents as an actor, dancer, and musician to create a piece of theatre that will resonate with me forever.

Collaborating with visual artist Dickie Beau, this was a contemporary piece. Using sound and a projector to tell the story of Jones’ life, it was not only an autobiographical show, but also a visual piece of art that demonstrated the character’s emotions; after his ex boyfriend called him a scar-faced-c*nt via text through the use of projected conversation.

The use of recorded sound and film projections was powerful; the fact that Jones did not perform much live speaking was irrelevant, as the digital effects were enough to execute the message perfectly.

This was a work in progress by Jones, yet I could see no work to be improved upon.

There were times in the play where it was hard for me to watch, having seen Matthew as Mannish and in other upbeat performances, this was certainly different to anything I would previously have called “normal” for Matthew Floyd Jones. In particular, I make reference to the scene in which we see his reaction to the scar-faced text, and he peels of his skin and throws up in the toilet. Although we don’t see any actual vomiting, the mere suggestion of it is enough to make watching difficult.

There were also references throughout the performance to the zodiac, as Jones states when reading his diary that he once wanted to be an astrologer. He uses the zodiac as an app, much similar to Grinder, through which his ex finds him again. His knowledge of astrology came through here in the scene of the Birth Chart, during which he uses astrology to come to terms with his feelings towards sex and, in particular, his uncomfortable emotions towards anal sex.

But skin was the major theme in this show, and with the use of shell suits to represent the organ, with every scene Jones would remove yet another layer. Rather than being grotesque, this action increased the audience’s sense of relaxation, as it was in these moments that we began to know the real Matthew Floyd Jones.

Ultimately, Pyschodermabrasion was compelling, personal, clever and dark. This was a performance that was both off the wall and alienating, yet also widely accessible. In the audience as a whole, we were able to relate to Jones on stage, and the message that I, certainly, took away, was that none of us are truly alone with our problems, no matter how personal they may be.