Review: Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in Skylight, Wyndhams Theatre
An actress cooking spaghetti bolognese on stage is always going to memorable* but I'm not sure much else will be about Skylight. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy it because I did to a point but it is one of those plays that you walk away from the theatre and life has already moved on.
Set in a dingy flat on a north London estate Kyra (Carey Mulligan) has two visitors in the same evening. First is Edward the son of her former lover (Matthew Beard) and then Tom his father (Bill Nighy). Tom's wife has recently died and full of guilt he is looking to rekindle his relationship with Kyra.
The two verbally spar as Kyra cooks dinner; both have lives that now revolve around very different spheres and they use their prejudices against each other. Kyra teaches at a school in rough part of East London and believes there is talent in everyone if given the right opportunities but is her self sacrifice, choice and location of dwelling some sort of self-punishment?
Tom is a successful and rich restaurateur who believes in hard work but that some people will never amount to much. He cannot fathom Kyra's stance or her life choice especially when she lived with Tom and his family in comfortable and affluent surroundings for several years while working for his business.
As they argue the toss over their differing opinions the story of how they got together and then split slowly emerges.
The two have some interesting exchanges and there are some points that remain pertinent nearly two decades after the play was written. However, I found myself being distracted by silly things such as both characters walking around barefoot despite reminding us constantly about how cold the flat is. Thinking about how icy their feet would be on the lino is something the play should divert you from. Equally, I couldn't help getting absorbed in Carey Mulligan's culinary skills - even if she did accidentally poor milk instead of wine into the bolognese at one point.
Bill Nighy was a bit disappointing as his performance seemed to be straight out of the Bill Nighy chapter of the actors guide to acting. His tone and physical performance, particularly in the first half, reminded me too much of comedies he's been in which didn't fit with the seriousness Skylight. There are some funny lines and that is probably when Nighy and David Hare's script work best but this isn't a comedy.
I think Skylight would work better in a smaller theatre and as an hour and half straight through. This was just about interesting enough but one play I'm glad I didn't pay £60 to see.
It is booking at the Wyndhams Theatre until 23 August.
* Be warned, eat before you go because you can smell the onions frying up in the gods
Easy peasy, Mr W is husband to Carey Mulligan's character in the forthcoming film Suffragette.