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Arts & Entertainment

Best Actress 

Julie Layton

Because HotCity Theatre's GreenHouse staging of Skin in Flames, an intense Spanish drama written by Guillem Clua in response to America's invasion of Iraq, was an American premiere, everything about the work-in-progress was a surprise. But as a poverty-stricken Third World factory worker, Julie Layton's spectral portrayal transcended surprise and approached revelation. Layton is a staple in the local acting community; her sprightly turns often elicit adjectives like "charming," "delightful" and, well, "sprightly." But there was nothing winsome about Ida, a timid young woman sadistically exploited by a sexual predator. Required to excavate the dark shafts of her soul, Layton rose to the challenge with a performance that shamed the viewer, just as Ida had been shamed. Layton elevated an anonymous nonentity into a heroine worthy of Greek tragedy. Her shattering work left a raw scar on the memory that, many months later, refuses to heal.

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