Writer: David Hare
Director: Tamara Harvey
Reviewer: Emma Boswell
David Hare’s Olivier Award-winning Skylight comes to Mold’s Theatr Clwyd this month. This new production of the 1995 drama is directed by its own Artistic Director, Tamara Harvey.
Skylight tells the tale of thirty-something altruistic secondary school teacher Kyra (Jeany Spark), who is visited by both her former lover, Tom Sergeant (Jay Villiers), and his son, Edward (Oscar Batterham), on the same night. The two and a bit hour production goes on to reminisce about the affair which Tom and Kyra engaged in several years earlier, While Kyra was living with the Sergeant family.
The entirety of the play is set in Kyra’s modest London tower-block abode. Designer James Perkins and Lighting Designer Nicholas Holdridge make good use of a fully functional kitchen and a cleverly-lit surround of breeze blocks, creating an intimate sense of a crowded, claustrophobic-feeling context for this tale. The dimming and brightening of the electric lit breeze blocks create a sense of a community moving together from day to night, as well as Sound Designer Matthew Williams’ subtle of use of background noises from neighbouring flats and outside traffic, which further draws the audience into the setting.
Throughout the production, which is in the main part dialogue between Tom and Kyra, the staging and production helps to bring the play to life. Spark moves effortlessly around the flat, completing every day domestic chores (running a bath, even preparing and cooking a Spaghetti Bolognese!) While delivering long sections of dialogue flawlessly.
This certainly draws the audience in and helps to create a realistic scene of an evening between two old friends. However, possibly due to such multi-tasking, the emotional delivery from both Spark and Villiers is sometimes left a little lacking – especially considering the relationship between the characters and the clear grievances and disagreements held by both. Each have a moment of anger – which feels unfounded and unexpected – some more outward signs of these emotions building in the characters could help to engage the audience more and allow them to relate.
The overall theme of the play – in which we are left, alongside the characters, to tackle the question: “Are we responsible only to ourselves or to society as a whole?” is just as poignant and relevant today as it was in its first release in the 1990s. All three cast members portray the theme well – Villiers, as the privileged and self-serving right-wing Tom; Spark as a well-meaning Kyra, who was raised in relative affluence but is trying to ‘pay-back’ to society by living in her small, unheated flat and teaching difficult inner-city London youths; and finally Batterham, as 16 year old Edward, trying to figure out who he is and where he stands.
The debates are interesting and balanced – the play isn’t used as a stage to voice only Hare’s well-known left-leaning political stance but to tackle questions about values and aspirations from a variety of perspectives. This is all done, in typical Hare style, by intertwining this larger picture with the smaller picture of Tom and Kyra’s complex relationship; both, inevitably, being left somewhat unresolved.
On the whole, Skylight is a well-acted, superbly-produced tale of both personal and social relationships – food for thought that will leave you tackling the same questions…and wanting a Spaghetti Bolognese!
Runs until 4 March 2017 | Image: Mark Carline