Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: Skylight

Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. Photo: John Haynes
Not Sure What These Characters See in Each Other, Or What Everyone Sees in the Play
By Lauren Yarger
I am starting to sound like a broken record, I know, but the Broadway revival of David Hare's Skylight is another play that is getting raves, but which left me wanting more.

It features excellent performances by Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy as reunited lovers, but the characters didn't give me much to like. Instead, Hare's script, which has been labeled as "beautiful," "gripping" and "illuminating" since it premiered in London's West End back in 1995, left my mind wandering.

Kyra Hollis (Mulligan) and Tom Sergeant (Nighy) had been lovers when Krya worked for the charismatic restaurant owner and lived in his home, where she became good friends with his wife, Alice, and son, Edward (Matthew Beard). When Tom's wife discovered their betrayal, Kyra left and moved to a rundown area of town to teach under-privileged children.  Her drafty,  drabby apartment, designed to show us interior and exterior perspectives, complete with a baffling moving wall, is designed by Bob Crowley.

One night, Edward visits, to voice his displeasure at Kyra's just up and leaving him and to announce that his mother has died. A short time later, there's another visitor: Tom. The domineering, restless, fidgety man is a complete contrast to the laid back, submissive, sweats-clad Kyra. We kind of wonder how they ever had a long-time affair. Tom, in his dapper, finely tailored suit obviously isn't comfortable in Kyra's cold and shabby digs.

 Woven into the threads of their conversation are messages about corporate and banker greed and the lack of concern about the poor by folks who have money. There also are some plugs for education reform. Kyra has left Tom's world of privilege and has a much different perspective. So despite a mutual attraction (why???) that flares up again, it might not possible for them to be together even now that Alice is out of the way.

In addition to boring dialogue, Hare has the two exchange long minutes of exposition so we know how they met and what happened in their relationship. I found myself composing a shopping list in my head, then coming back to the dialogue to find they still were talking about the same thing they had been when my mind wandered.

Couldn't understand what Kyra ever saw in Tom, what he ever saw in her, or why Edward seemed to prefer Kyra to his own mother. I felt really bad for Alice. And I have no idea why the play is called Skylight. Obviously, I didn't connect with this one.

Director Stephen Daldry has Kyra prepare a real dinner -- some sort of pasta with odd ingredients while Tom micro-manages the process. It smells really good though, and I immediately started adding things to my grocery list. At intermission, all the conversation was about the dish's savory aroma and how everyone was now hungry. Nothing about the play's being beautiful, gripping or illuminating, however.

Skylight has received Tony nominations for Best Revival of a Play, Nighy, Mulligan, Beard, Crowley, Daldry and Natasha Katz, who designed the lighting, so what do I know?

It plays through June 21 at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday a t 3 pm. Tickets: $60 - $149: http://www.skylightbwy.com/

Christians might like to know:
-- Language
-- Lord's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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