Sunday, 7 September 2014

Theatre 2014: Review Twenty-Eight (cinema)

Skylight (National Theatre Live, Wyndham's Theatre, London. September 2014.

Thanks to the NT Live programme Mr Norfolkbookworm and I got the chance to see a play that were both interested in but just couldn't fit into our diaries this summer.  Instead on a Sunday when the weather was a bit 'British' we went to our local Odeon cinema and spent almost three happy hours watching a great piece of theatre.

All I really knew about this production was that Carey Mulligan made a spaghetti bolognese on stage during the course of the drama and I do find that it is a real test of if a play works or not as to whether this approach works.

In this case I found that it did, the characters and their motives were written well enough that without too much extraneous explanation you knew who they were, how they related to each other and what drove them.  There was an awful lot of humour in the roles and I found myself laughing with and at the three characters throughout the play. (The plot is well explained on Wikipedia if you are interested, but I'd try and see an Encore if you can.)

A mark of the writing is that my opinions of the characters changed repeatedly throughout the action and although I would put myself on the liberal end of the political and social spectrum I found myself swayed by both Tom and Kyra's speeches and on balance think I had a little more sympathy with the more traditional, conservative part by the end which really surprised me! The 'star' casting was spot on and made use of actors' idiosyncrasies without making about them not the role.

Some reviewers have criticised the role, or the actor, playing Tom's son Edward.  I found him totally believable as a teenager taking a gap year.  He was the right mix of gauche, cocky, over confident and underneath it all bewildered and insecure.  His actions in the last scene are also some of the sweetest I've seen (or read in a novel) for a long time.

As is so often the case I do wish that I had seen this on stage. As I didn't manage that then I wish I'd seen it at my usual NT Live venue - Cinema City - as the screening we were in had very few people in it and really did lose more of the atmosphere than I've ever found at an NT Live screening.  I'm really pleased that another venue was showing Encores as otherwise I'd have missed this one totally but the cavernous, 3/4 empty screen did change the experience.

I've found myself thinking about the play an awful lot, it was first written and staged in 1996 but society has changed so little in that time (or we've come full circle) that it doesn't seem dated. Only the set dressing and props plus the reference to Yellow Pages give it away that this revival wasn't set in 2014. I also want to commend the set, all too often if all reviewer/bloggers can write about is the stage then there were issues with the play but in this case the backdrop was magnificent and really did make me think we were in a rundown, inner city estate.

The good news for those who missed it is there will be another chance to see the play, it will be re staged on Broadway from next April...

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