A play with a cast of three leaves nowhere to hide and David Hare’s ‘Skylight’ currently enjoying a successful revival in the West End is no exception. I have to admit I went with my sister who had seen the original run starring Michael Gambon and Lia Williams at the National in 1995. My sister was very enthusiastic about the original and was not disappointed by this version either.
I did have my reservations about Carey Mulligan (playing Kyra Hollis) as it is not always a simple shoe-in for a successful movie star to return to her very early theatre days, and this was also her West End debut. She was good as Kyra, but the whole performance caught fire with the over-the-top, florid entrance of Tom Sargeant played by Bill Nighy and the electric interaction between these two mis-matched old lovers.
Sometimes a revival feels dated and out-of-step, but sadly this play’s themes of social imbalance between those who appear to have everything and those who are impoverished, resonates even more strongly in 2014 than in the 1990s. And, Kyra’s passionate speech supporting the efforts of social workers received a spontaneous strong round of applause at the performance we attended. Although it is essentially a play about serious issues it is also very funny with spiky, amusing lines delivered with exquisite timing by Bill Nighy. All in all an engaging experience at the theatre.
Just a little afterthought – during the interval whilst sitting admiring the fine late-Victorian ceiling I remembered that I’d also seen Caryl Churchill’s ‘Serious Money’ in this very theatre in 1988. Another play delivering a commentary on our unequal society, but in a more deliberate brash and satirical form. The depressing conclusion is that in the intervening quarter of a century gross inequality has not lessened and, if anything, according to the numbers people, the gap between the super rich and the rest of us is widening.