‘Skylight’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by October 7, 2016

‘Skylight’ is a psychological drama, written in 1995 by the three times, Tony Award nominated playwright, Sir David Hare. In America he was twice nominated for Oscars.

Hare’s plays tend to be wordy with virtually no action, and this is typical of his genre. That doesn’t mean that his plays are boring. Far from it, he has a great talent for giving huge depth to his characters. He often leaves the audience squirming as his beautifully structured dialogue exposes the personalities.

This two and a quarter hour play is being presented by the Limelight Theatre Repertory Company, at the Limelight Theatre, Civic Drive in Wanneroo. The performances are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 pm until 8th October.

 

It is a freezing November evening in 1995. Robert and Susie Benson-Parry have completely captured the semi-squalor of this post war residence – built to a budget. The scene is Kyra’s downmarket, top-floor flat, in Kensal Rise situated in the Borough of Brent – one of north London’s most deprived areas. There is a cramped, shabby dinette, with a single bedroom leading off the room. Well fitted out with Carryn McLean’s props.

Stage managed by Pearl Jensen and Dayle Seaman. Wardrobe advice from Shelley McGinn.

The show was given the mood of the film ‘A Brief Encounter’, with well-chosen music by Alan McPherson. The sound techs were Patrick McGinn and Kim Elford, with lighting by Zachary Ozlins.

 

     Shivering schoolteacher, Kyra Hollis (Emma Shaw) is home after a gruelling day, of educating disinterested kids in East Ham. Her flat seems even colder than the bleak weather outside. She puts on woollen mitts, and plugs in her ineffective, one-bar electric fire.

     Kyra rushes through to the bathroom to run an ache-easing bath. When she comes back into the sitting room, a young man is standing there. He is Edward (Jacob Turner), an eighteen-year-old student whom she has not seen for three years. Kyra gives him a peck on the cheek. Edward is the son of Tom (Gino Cataldo), a wealthy businessman with whom this much younger woman had a 6-year affair.

      Edward tells Kyra that his bedridden mother has now died; and that his father has not been the same since Kyra left their household. Before leaving, he pleads for Kyra to come back.

      No sooner has Kyra finished her bath, but her doorbell rings. It is the highly charismatic, but manipulative Tom, come to work his spell on Kyra – or will she see through him and his dubious ideologies this time?

 

It takes a special kind of director to make a psychological drama interesting to the audience, and James Hough-Neilson certainly succeeded. It also takes tremendous skill to carry out what is virtually a two-hander for 130 minutes. Emma was on stage the full time, and Gino for a large portion. All three actors were exceptional, portraying full depth to their very different characters.

Jacob set the scene with his ‘little boy lost’ dialogue, hinting to us what a lonely childhood he had experienced. Then Gino came in, showing us the self-centred restaurateur, who felt that throwing money at a situation was always the answer and that people did not really matter.

Both Gino and Emma conquered the mountain of dialogue, mingled with several challenging monologues. They incorporated the subtle changes of mood, and the personality swings wonderfully. Emma was flawless as the poor ‘sponge’, mopping up all of the muck flying around – magnificent performance.

The language of the play was at times quite crude, and I heard some of the older members commenting on it. However, the script was beautifully written and structured, so the language was appropriate to the situation.

An admirable presentation of a very difficult and thought-provoking play.