BEATY, Alpha and Coral are the chorus in a production of The Trojan Women.

Wearing enormous, birdcage like dresses, they wait until their cue ends, and they can chat backstage. It is then that they begin to peel off their layers, trade insults with each other, gossip, knit, share recipes, make jokes about disability politics and feel anger at being marginalised. For being physically disabled, the actresses feel sidelined, only getting the bit parts, such as their present roles. And the three actresses playing Beaty, Alpha and Coral are superb – Nicola Miles-Wildin as the vulnerable Coral, Ali Briggs the tough Alpha and Kiruna Stamell feisty Beaty.

As the onstage play unfolds, there are so many parallels with the women’s lives and the lives of the Trojan Women.

When Andromache loses her beloved baby, it acts as a trigger for the actresses to unburden details of their private lives, sharing their innermost thoughts and stripping away pretences. By carefully juxtaposing biting black humour throughout the play, it prevents it from ever feeling too dark.

Kaite O’Reilly’s play, written in 2002, has been sensitively revived by Forest Forge’s artistic director Kirstie Davis with a production that at times feels incredibly intimate and poignant in David Haworth’s backstage set.

The announcement that Kaite O’Reilly was the winner of the Ted Hughes award for new work in poetry came the same week as the opening of Forest Forge’s production in Ringwood, testament if it was needed of the power of her writing.

Peeling works on so many levels but it is the strong performances by all three actresses that ensures this play will stay with you. There is much to commend Forest Forge’s powerful production.

Anne Morris

* Peeling continues its tour at Poole’s Lighthouse Centre for the Arts tonight and tomorrow night, the Victoria Rooms in Fordingbridge on Saturday, Ibsley village hall on Tuesday and Gussage All Saints village hall on Wednesday. Full details of the company tour are available online.