This outstanding production of David Hare’s marvellous play was filmed in London’s West End under the umbrella of NT Live on July 17.
Written eighteen years ago by the great British playwright David Hare , and first performed in 1995 , this gripping, intense production makes it feels as relevant, powerful and fresh as if it was written yesterday.
SKYLIGHT is superbly written and crafted, with humour, poignancy and biting wit. The political and personal are deftly interwoven as Hare shows us two people bound together by shared passionate memories of passion but separated by attitude, income and ideology.
Under Daldry’s magnificent direction the small cast of three ( Beard, Mulligan and Nighy ) are coaxed into giving brilliant performances.
Crowley’s set illustrates Kyra’s dingy ,cluttered ,messy , rather depressing housing commision flat at Kensal Rise .It is freezing cold and outside the trees are bare( although the snow does make them slightly prettier) . Walls slide away in a coup de theatre so we can see inside . (In the interval interview Hare says in effect that he set himself the task he had always wanted of writing a love story with just two people in a room).
The play begins and ends with Edward’s appearance but it is Tom and Kyra’s relationship that is the heart of the play. Mulligan and Nighy are sensational, their performance crackles with the tension between them.
As Kyra, Mulligan is stunning, luminous, with huge sad eyes. Intensely focused, at times she has an almost feline aura of self possession, yet at others she glows with joyous memories of romance. She is fiery and passionate about helping her students, full of quiet determination.She has an impassioned monologue about her love for Tom, and how she had to flee once his wife Alice found out , but there’s also another monologue about her passion for her work and how she makes it bearable by listening to people whilst travelling on the bus.
She has a scathing, vehement monologue on the way politicians and journalists habitually trash social workers,which generated much spontaneous applause both in the theatre at the performance and from us in the cinema audience watching.
Nighy as Tom is tall and arrogant with an explosive temper that has a very short fuse. He stalks Kyra’s flat as if he owns it, kicking chairs out of the way and delivering his wonderful lines with perfect timing. .
A rich entrepreneur he can’t really understand Kyra’s leaving and choosing to live the life she does although he tries to. Nighy is craggily handsome and extremely charismatic.
When we first see him ,underneath his cashemere overcoat his suit is beautifully pressed and his shirt immaculate. Kyra accuses Tom of having no real understanding of ordinary people’s lives,– look at the way he treats his driver, Frank. His handling and opinion of the cheese Kyra gives him to grate, it is as if, as one of my colleagues remarked, it was radioactive .
Beard as Edward,Tom’s son, is tall thin, gangly and anxious to please. A tremendous performance. He dazzles Kyra at the end with the presentation of a huge splendid breakfast. One wonders at the end, whether a cycle involving Kyra and Edward, would continue?!
There are many issues raised including Tom blaming himself for Alice’s suffering and feeling she never really forgave him and always expected something back (did she? ). Was it an accident that Tom left the incriminating letters that day on the table? Was Kyra morally correct in fleeing at the time once Alice had found out about the affair? Both Tom and Kyra battle with enormous guilt .
A brilliant performance where the two lovers Kyra and Tom rake over the ashes of their affair the play reminds us of both the hurt and anger of lost love, and has sudden piercing moments of enduring tenderness. It is a wonderful mixture of public rage and private hidden pain at our profoundly unequal and polarised society.
Running time –allow 2 hours 45 (approx) which includes one interval and an interview with David Hare.
An NT Live production, cinemagoers can still catch SKYLIGHT this coming weekend. SKYLIGHT is screening this weekend at the Palace Chauvel and Riverside Parramatta and the Cremorne Orpheum where it is also screening on Wednesday 5th November.