An extract on #welivetoexplore
A theatrical version, with music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell, was staged at the National Theatre London on 25 April 1984, directed by Peter Hall. It toured nine cities in 1985.
A solo version, adapted and performed by Guy Masterson, premired at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh in January 1995 and has toured worldwide since.
The integumentary structure contains some typical characteristics common to terrestrial vertebrates, such as the presence of highly cornified outer layers, renewed periodically through a moulting process controlled by the pituitary and thyroid glands. Local thickenings (often called warts) are common, such as those found on toads. The outside of the skin is shed periodically mostly in one piece, in contrast to mammals and birds where it is shed in flakes. Amphibians often eat the sloughed skin. Caecilians are unique among amphibians in having mineralized dermal scales embedded in the dermis between the furrows in the skin. The similarity of these to the scales of bony fish is largely superficial. Lizards and some frogs have somewhat similar osteoderms forming bony deposits in the dermis, but this is an example of convergent evolution with similar structures having arisen independently in diverse vertebrate lineages.
Amphibian skin is permeable to water. Gas exchange can take place through the skin (cutaneous respiration) and this allows adult amphibians to respire without rising to the surface of water and to hibernate at the bottom of ponds. To compensate for their thin and delicate skin, amphibians have evolved mucous glands, principally on their heads, backs and tails. The secretions produced by these help keep the skin moist. In addition, most species of amphibian have granular glands that secrete distasteful or poisonous substances. Some amphibian toxins can be lethal to humans while others have little effect. The main poison-producing glands, the paratoids, produce the neurotoxin bufotoxin and are located behind the ears of toads, along the backs of frogs, behind the eyes of salamanders and on the upper surface of caecilians.
The skin colour of amphibians is produced by three layers of pigment cells called chromatophores. These three cell layers consist of the melanophores (occupying the deepest layer), the guanophores (forming an intermediate layer and containing many granules, producing a blue-green colour) and the lipophores (yellow, the most superficial layer). The colour change displayed by many species is initiated by hormones secreted by the pituitary gland. Unlike bony fish, there is no direct control of the pigment cells by the nervous system, and this results in the colour change taking place more slowly than happens in fish. A vividly coloured skin usually indicates that the species is toxic and is a warning sign to predators.