Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 26 June 2016
Skylight, June 23, 2016 ***1/2
THEATRE By David Hare, Melbourne Theatre
Theatre, Sumner, until July 23, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***1/2
Review also in Herald Sun in print on Mon June 27, 2016. KH
Anna Samson, Colin Friels, photo Jeff Busby
Hare’s play, Skylight, the personal collides with the political and the value
of public service conflicts with that of business achievement and its resultant
set in London in 1995, but its social commentary is still relevant twenty-one
years on, in our 21st century world that is rife with social
characters’ opposing attitudes to wealth, work, public duty and personal
ambition could be a dinner conversation in 2016.
Hollis (Anna Samson) fled her comfortable, privileged life as employee and
secret lover of Tom Sergeant (Colin Friels), a wealthy, ambitious and married restaurateur.
three years later, Tom arrives at the door of Kyra’s icy, rundown flat in the
down-market suburb of Kensal Rise, from which she commutes to her job as a
dedicated teacher of difficult kids in a tough school in East Ham.
death of his long-suffering wife a year earlier, Tom has been crippled by grief
and guilt, and he seeks solace with his former lover, Kyra, whose life and
views are now polar opposites of Tom’s own.
intense dialogue is a passionate argument that balances the characters’
opposing attitudes, shifting our allegiances and sympathies in each exchange.
arrogance, vanity and self-absorption counter Kyra’s self-righteousness and
adamant disapproval of the world of business and finance.
Bryant’s production, Friels gives a compelling, well-judged and nuanced
performance as Tom, plumbing the depths of his needy vulnerability and highlighting
Tom’s acerbic, rapid-fire wit as he assassinates the character of his management
Kyra with a nervous energy that is barely masked by her frosty reception of
Tom, and Samson is at her best in the rare moments she is still and focused and
when Kyra’s tirades about education garner the audience’s sympathy.
characterisation is not always credible, her jerky and unnatural physicality is
often distracting, while the cool reserve with which she plays Kyra belies the
intimacy that Tom and Kyra shared in the past and present.
over a single night, Hare’s masterly play cunningly dissects social and
political inequity through Tom and Kyra’s passionate but disintegrating
relationship, while their vehement argument about politics reveal the yawning
gap that now exists between them.
this production, Tom and Kyra’s relationship lacks that palpable, barely
contained passion that should match the political fervour that underlies their
communication and drives Hare’s story.
Wallace, as Tom’s 18 year-old son, Edward, provides some genuine warmth, human
concern and a strangely objective view of both characters in his two short
visits to Kyra’s flat that act as bookends to the conflict between his father
is an impassioned commentary that highlights social inequities through personal
pain and political outrage and it is a tribute to his capacity to write drama
that challenges an audience to think.