Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Skylark from National Theatre

Courtesy of Washington's Shakespeare Theater Company, we saw a broadcast of the Royal National Theatre's production of David Hare's play, Skylight, at Sidney Harman Hall Monday night.  The performance was in London this past July, so this was a tape delay, ostensibly broadcast in HD. The play is scheduled to open on Broadway in a few months.

Carey Mulligan starred, opposite Bill Nighy. I've liked both of them in the past and Miss Mulligan definitely rose to the occasion. She plays a teacher living in a scruffy part of London, having fled after six years' service as caretaker for the son of a successful restaurant entrepreneur. Now she is visited, for different reasons, by both the son, and his father, with whom she had an affair.

Carey Mulligan makes the part of the thirtyish teacher come alive. You sense her bright mind and her need for independence that drove her away from the restaurateur, even though her departure was ostensibly brought on by the discovery of the affair by his dying wife. Bill Nighy, a good actor, whom I first saw in the movie Love, Actually and then on Broadway in Hare's The Vertical Box, seemed miscast in the first act but grew into the part in the second. The original Tom in 995, when the play debuted, was Michael Gambon, whom I would have loved to have seen in it.

One big problem with the show was the lighting. We did have seats in the gallery, where I hadn't previously sat, which may have affected our perception of light, but the stage seemed so dark at the start that I couldn't even make the faces out. I'm accustomed to the excellent production values of the Metropolitan Opera's movie house broadcasts in HD; this lighting may have suffered from being in an old London playhouse, even older, of course, than the Broadway legit houses, and unlike the relatively modern National Theatre complex.

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