Robert Fox, Scott Rudin
Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson
Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy
With: Matthew Beard
By David Hare
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Designed by Bob Crowley
252 West 45th Street
New York, NY
Lighting Design by Natasha Katz
Sound Design by Paul Arditti
Composer: Paul Englishby
Production Stage Manager: William Joseph Barnes
Press Representative: Philip Rinaldi
Company Manager: David Van Zyll De Jong
Assoc. Director: Justin Martin
Production Manager: Aurora Productions
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 9, 2015
In David Hareís 1995 play, Skylight, set in Kyra Hollisí dingy, cluttered Kensal Rise flat, early 1990ís London, Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy) and Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan), former clandestine lovers, have an emotionally choreographed rendezvous for dinner and intimacy. Tom proceeds to kick chairs and slice onions, while Kyra proceeds to talk of altruism, as she teaches underprivileged children, who really need her. Moreover, sheís become self-supporting and independent, no longer really needing Tom. In the play, Tom is supposed to be about 20 years older than Kyra, but Mr. Nighy is actually almost 40 years older than Ms. Mulligan, and the onstage age chasm, which is obvious, brings the mutual tension to a higher level. Kyra worked for Tomís restaurant empire, and, at 18, was invited into Tomís home, joining Tomís wife, son, and daughter. Now, a year after the death of Tomís wife, and only moments from a similar, unexpected visit from Tomís teen son, Edward, whoís estranged from his father, Tom meekly asks Kyra if she plans to set the table for two. Heís hungry, for the pasta sauce on the stove, and for Kyra, wherever sheíll embrace him. Details revealed are few, in this relationship dialogue, as the focus is on the psychic dance and gestural nuance.
Ms. Mulligan keeps Kyra in full control, almost all the time, in this satisfying revival. Stephen Daldry, a maestro Director, has Kyra calm, while Tom is propulsive. Theyíre like a lake and a lion. Yet, still waters run deep, and one can surmise that Ms. Mulliganís Kyra spent the recent years therapeutically teaching herself not to be impulsive or risky, the exact two traits that have made Tom the financial success that he is now. When Mr. Nighy walks outside the setís windows, his silvery hair glistens in invisible wind, like heís walking into a boardroom. When Ms. Mulligan moves about, sheís filled with resolution and restraint. Kyra had lived in Tomís lush lifestyle, under the trusting eye of Mrs. Sergeant. But, when Tom accidentally or purposefully left a telling clue, and their affair was discovered, Kyra dashed out and moved on. That had been her line in the sand, all along. Tom insults Kyraís lackluster abode, used-looking furnishings, and freezing kitchen temperature; Kyra insults Tomís prejudices, lack of social conscience, and conservative ways. The chemistry certainly would have been more credible, had Mr. Daldry located two actors, about two decades apart. Here, the relentless seduction and shallow promises made by Tom, with Mr. Nighy almost 40 years older, created an unsettling sensation.
The character that actually fit into Ms. Mulliganís world was Tomís son, Edward, a warm, effusive, and caring Matthew Beard. When Edward visited Kyra, shortly before and after his fatherís tumultuous tÍte-ŗ-tÍte, he told Kyra that he mostly missed their breakfasts. So, late in the play, a glorious breakfast picnic appeared in Edwardís arms, and, finally, Kyra glowed. Mr. Beard is an artist to watch, able to draw out passages of extreme sensitivity mixed with trepidation. Bob Crowleyís finely tuned set, including a multi-colored housing project, whose residents could see into Kyraís home, was lit meaningfully, in the finale. The notion of the skylight was intrinsic to the playís core dialogue. Mr. Crowley also dressed Mr. Nighy in a streamlined suit, while Ms. Mulligan wore casual youthfulness, plus an apron at times. It was that apron that exemplified the socio-economic divide between Kyra and Tom. Lighting and sound were warm and clear, with original music, in interludes, magnifying scenic alienation, which palpably lifted with Edwardís ebullient return. I would like to see this play again in a new production, on the small stage, with lead actors about two decades apart. . . .