By David Hare
19–27 November 2010
Skylight offers parts for just three actors, the chance to construct only one set, and precious little in the way of plot; but its focus on character, ambiguity, passion and regret sets a huge task, far removed from the mechanical delivery of lines and fulfilment of stage directions.
Kyra, played by Sarah Evans with restraint and absorbing truth, in her freezing, deeply unfashionable London flat, is a barely willing hostess to her former lover, Tom, for a single evening. The couple have plenty to discuss, but their communication is halting and fractured, veering from rancour to tender compassion, but with distrust and self-protection always sensed behind their words. Kyra’s emotions, and those of Tom, bubble and gush to the surface in a pool of recrimination, self-justification, painful insight and plain incomprehension. The currents between the pair force each to observe the other in full flow, and yet both actors managed to retain interest and sympathy throughout by carefully delivered gesture and facial expression.
David Morley as Tom, millionaire restaurateur, man of business, bereaved husband, abandoned lover and uncaring father, found the torture and loss which allowed the audience to empathize with a superficially unattractive character. Both actors delivered truly exemplary performances, and James Collins as Edward, in many ways the most likeable of the three characters, stood well in the company of his elders, beginning and ending the piece with the required blend of nervous flourish.
Jonathan Pitts, directing as well as designing the set, must take credit for assembling a pitch-perfect cast, but deserves far greater praise for enabling them to deliver the play in such a direct, personal and assured way. It is to his, and the actors’, credit that they clearly understood the complexities of the piece and allowed the audience to wrestle with the ambiguities on display without driving to a single conclusion or taking sides with either protagonist.
In bringing David Hare back to the town of his birth, the Stables has joyously reminded us that that we don’t have to travel to find theatrical excellence, simply appreciate what we already have.