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LETTERS TO EDITOR
By Macey Levin
David Hare, author of Plenty and Racing Demons, infuses his plays with polemics in the guise of conversation. In Skylight, currently receiving a sensitive production at the Miniature Theater of Chester, he creates fully rounded characters whose philosophies are at opposite ends of a vast spectrum. The relationships and conflicts are dramatically enhanced by the strength of his dialogue.
Kyra (Francesca Faridany) worked for Tom's (Terence Rigby) chain of restaurants for six years during which time she was befriended by Alice and Edward (Nicholas Lawson,) his wife and son. She was also Tom's lover. They have not seen each other since the affair was discovered three years earlier.
Kyra has become a teacher for underprivileged children in one of London's most difficult schools and lives in a cramped flat in a disreputable area. Since Alice's death a year before in a bright room dominated by a skylight, Tom has become isolated and surly, turning his anger and depression toward Edward. On this snowy night, both father and son seek out Kyra.
As the plot reveals the profound need Tom and Kyra still have for each other, their disparate views of life drive them further apart. He is the pragmatic businessman whose measure of success is comfort and material gain, whereas Kyra has found a place where she can help people, and herself, survive, even if it means living in a cold, dark apartment with a pittance for remuneration. Tom decries her idealism while she attacks his self-absorption.
Hare has not written tit-for-tat speeches. Rather, the chasm separating the characters grows wider as the lovers reveal past experiences and offer insights into their lives. As the audience peers into the relationship, the philosophic issues are examined in dialogue heightened by powerful and intimate emotions. Frequent laugh lines ease the strain of the conflict while emphasizing many of their disputatious comments and beliefs.
Faridany and Rigby imbue their characters with realistic attitudes. Kyra is the spine of the play and Faridany's performance is touchingly real. There is not a wasted move or sound; everything she does builds the character, the relationship, the tone and the theme of the play. The believability of her effort is grounded in the simplicity of her work.
Rigby's first scenes are a bit too bombastic and gruff, suggesting that the actor is pushing his presence rather than the character's unease. He becomes more human in the second act after Kyra and Tom have made love. His jagged edges have been controlled and both character and actor are more comfortable. As Edward, Lawson‘s accent is some times difficult to understand, hindering the communication of expository material. His last scene, however, is quite affecting
James Warwick's direction is crisp and pointed, utilizing the playing space to create pictures that underline the deteriorating relationship. His characters talk to, not at, each other, despite opportunities to be didactic. There are a number of extensive pauses that fill the air with tension or relief or pain, rather than merely being empty long stretches of silence. The atmosphere created by Lara Dubin's lighting and Carl Sprague's set design complements the strong direction.
The provocative ideas and arguments as well as compelling acting renders this production of Skylight a dramatic and emotional experience. That is what theatre is about.
Editor's Note: Skylight moved from its London premiere to Broadway during
CurtainUp's first season. It starred the actor known as The Great Gambon. For a review of that production go here.
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