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NT Live: Skylight

The entire two-and-a-half hour drama takes place in a one-room flat with only three characters, yet received numerous five star reviews after its British debut.
By Karina Abadia
November 17, 2014
By Karina Abadia
November 17, 2014

Go along to NT Live: Skylight and you're in for an emotional ride. The play, which was filmed as part of London's National Theatre live recordings, contains only three actors and the entire two-and-a-half hour drama takes place in a one-room flat.

Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard star in the David Hare play which first premiered in 1995. You'd think it'd be dated but its themes of inequality and the public versus private divide are as relevant today as they were then. Stephen Daldry's directorship just revitalises this already rich and moving play.

Nighy is Tom Sergeant, a wealthy restaurateur who goes to see his former flame Kyra Hollis, played by Mulligan, in her shabby Kensal Rise flat. Tom's not coping well after losing his wife to cancer a year ago. He seeks out the familiar comfort of Kyra who he had a six-year affair with. Since she left, Kyra's found her calling teaching maths to underprivileged kids at an East End school. Tom thinks she's wasting her talents on a dead end job with little financial reward. It's clear time has done little to dull their passion. It's just a shame they're poles apart in ideology.

Intense discussion follows as they try to make sense of the past and of each other as they are now. It's pretty clear that Hare sides with Kyra but as with any play of substance, we see both sides. Tom may have a driver, an expensive house and all the Italian cheese he could eat but he's felt lost ever since Kyra walked out. Kyra waxes lyrical about her job and how much she loves her hour-long bus ride to work but the solicitor's daughter is just a bit too smug about her adoption of all things working class.

When Tom arrives Kyra has just had a visit from his son Edward, played by Matthew Beard, who goes to see her because he's worried about his father. Not long after Tom swings in the door. They talk and she starts making a simple pasta meal. The onions sizzle as they hit the pan and later the sauce bubbles away. It's a wonderfully mundane act and one which makes the drama all the more intimate and real. It's easy to see why Skylight received numerous five star reviews after its British debut; it's a brilliantly acted and beautifully crafted story of politics and love.

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