Director Matthew Addis tells us about Skylight, here 11 – 15 February.
Skylight is nothing if not a personal play.
Personal in the way that we as the cast and crew approach it, and personal in the way that audiences will experience it. All of the cast have gotten very close to their characters during the rehearsal process – seeing aspects of themselves in the characters’ foibles, struggles and limitations, as well as adding their own individuality to the characters that the writer, David Hare, has fleshed out so compellingly on the page.
As the director, it has been my job to help the actors to really inhabit these characters and deliver a performance that is so natural and so emotional that the audience will have no choice but to feel transported to that cold, threadbare kitchen and into the midst of the fiery, life-changing relationships unfolding in front of them.
It has been gratifying to see how much the actors have taken their characters to heart and how keen they have been to learn their lines way ahead of time so that they can get on with the fun of immersing themselves in their characters and enjoying the highs and lows of emotion that they experience every night.
As a result of the efforts of our talented trio of actors (and, of course, David Hare’s sparkling script), audiences can expect two hours of intense, witty, caustic, passionate drama as the characters verbally spar with one another, throwing back and forth lines dripping with emotion, humour, sarcasm and even, sometimes, love.
Written and first performed in 1995, Skylight was an attempt by renowned ‘lefty’ and social commentator Sir David Hare to write from the point of view of a businessman for the first time. He created the character of Tom in the mould of a Thatcherite entrepreneur who has made his money with a string of restaurants and hotels through the 80s and may now be struggling to deal with 90s society shifting to a more caring, inclusive outlook. This is personified by the character of Kyra, who had worked with Tom, and even lived with his family for several years, before suddenly cutting off all contact without explanation three year ago. She has spent the intervening time teaching in a deprived area of London and ‘slumming it’ in insalubrious accommodation. She is visited in her cold apartment one winter evening by Edward, Tom’s son, who feels abandoned by Kyra leaving their home and family without explanation all those years ago and wants an explanation and her help in dealing with his Dad. Edward’s mother Alice has since died and the grief is affecting Tom in ways that the teenage Edward can’t fully understand – he an only hope that his old friend and surrogate-family-member Kyra can help.
Coincidentally, Tom also chooses this same evening to look up Kyra and seek answers to his doubts, questions and feelings about her abrupt departure. Those answers aren’t entirely what he might have been expecting, or hoping for, but some long-suppressed home truths are aired on both sides and we, the audience, get a ringside seat as they tease, reminisce and fight – all while Kyra cooks them spaghetti for their dinner live on stage! Truly a sensory overload for anyone lucky enough to be present for what is an intimate, hilarious and thought-provoking evening of live theatre.
Skylight was well received by audiences and critics alike right from its debut in 1995. The first production was in London, transferring to Broadway by the end of 1996 and then being revived in 1997 and 2014. Over the years acting luminaries including Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Stella Gonet and Carey Mulligan have made up the cast, while Richard Eyre and Stephen Daldry have directed and picked up garlands such as Tony Awards and Laurence Olivier Awards.
Although perhaps best known for his Oscar-nominated screenplays for The Hours and The Reader, David Hare has dedicated most of his career to the theatre. Plays such as Racing Demon, Plenty and Amy’s View have won him much praise, but none more so than Skylight. He has also said that he wanted to write a “full-bloodedly romantic play, in which romantic love was benign”. However, once you have seen Skylight, you might wonder just what counts as malignant by David Hare’s standards! A standard romantic comedy this is not!
Book for Skylight now: click here.