Skylight (2014) Poster


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Enrich your life
sesht6 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
First-off, this has been one of the best experiences in terms of my watching any work-of-art in a local multiplex this year, and that goes for the other National Theater 'Live' (not really 'Live' locally, but more on that later) productions that I was fortunate enough to catch (both Frankenstein versions with Cumberbatch/Lee Miller, and the puppet version of the sentimental 'War Horse').

This one does not have any of the interviews or the digressing into the making-of, and that was kinda disappointing, though I was not for it when I saw them being done in earlier National Theater 'Live' productions. I wish there was more, but perhaps I could find them online sometime.

Not a big fan of Carey Mulligan, though I did enjoy her turns since her debut. Enjoyed 'An Education', 'Inside Llewyn Davis', 'Brothers', 'Drive', 'Shame' and 'Never let me go' most of all. A big fan of maker Stephen Daldry. His talent behind-the-scenes on 'The Reader' made me wish that that had a National Theater version too, since that would play well in front of an audience with taste, most of whom you might not find in a typical multiplex. I had the fortune to watch 'The reader' screened in a great Indie cinema, as well as the misfortune of watching it with a local, tasteless audience.

None of those issues plague this screening, other than for the fact that this is being screened not 'Live', but perhaps after 9 months of being performed and screened internationally. While I'm thankful that this at least got a screening locally, I do wish that it was done at the same time as the other regions, and it was given as big as push is it is done in other, so-called 'developed' regions.

Once again, none of that are ever in the way of enjoying this master-work of writing and enactment.

The score is sparse, and though it might sound as though I am complaining, I am actually not, since what score is there is so eclectic and unique, that it makes one appreciate the courage that the makers had to let this one play out without any (almost), while they had major talent on hand for the same.

I won't go into the plot, but I have to say that Mulligan is perfect, though I have seen her play younger characters, the way she plays this not-so-young one, whose arc has evolved before we get to meet her, is apt, and perhaps one of the best works I have seen her do. To be fair, I did notice her slip outta character a few times, almost as though a character on 'SNL' or 'Whose line...' is also responding to the work both they and their co-stars are doing. While I know that it might get distracting at times, this is not one of those.

Nighy is perfect, playing, ahem, an imperfect character.

Going in, based on what I read about this before, I ended up having a few expectations that weren't met, and that's not a bad thing by any stretch. The expectations I had were more in the line of hoping for the makers treating both leads equally, with both their infallibilities being brought to the fore over the course of this 160-minute play. While that does happen, what was surprising, by the end, is that this work firmly takes a stand in favor of one character over the other, and perhaps that's not such a bad thing since it kept me on my toes waiting, until the curtains fell. This encompasses everything from class-conflict to treatises on democracy/aristocracy, with a smattering of couch/google-psychology thrown into this seemingly-eclectic mix, while weaving this, on the surface, around marital infidelity, betrayal and such. Real-life. Almost every line made me harken back to similar situations/circumstances/discussions I've had with my significant other, and to say that everything going on around us has something to do with who we are, what we think of ourselves, and how we mean to eventually lead our lives / carve a new path, is perfectly accurate, whether/not this truth is recognized. This play, embodies that reality, in a way so strong as to leave no room for doubt. Reality might not be as certain on certain viewpoints as this one is, but if a case were to be made in a fashion mirroring how its done in this, why not give a listen?

Mathew Beard (Imitation Game, Riot Club), re- unites with Mulligan after 'An Education' (he did not have much to do in that), and his character's integration into the main plot before and after the culmination of the main narrative, forces us to think of things that are important to us, while they might actually be mundane things often taken for granted.

I have to say though, that I still am figuring out the significance of the title (it IS referenced over the course of the play), and also am trying to get used to how the moving parts come together from the perspective of the set design that seems to play a great role as kind of an active backdrop for the characters to interact, almost being an enabler-of-sorts. Repeat viewing might give me better perspective on that, and those who read me regularly will know by now that I live for worthy repeat viewings.

Before signing off, one of the best and perhaps most unique things about this work-of-art is the act of cooking a meal, by someone who did not have the taste or the knack for that earlier. That seemed to tie in to the arc of that character, and illustrated, that this character had moved on, while the one you'd expect to have done so, perhaps did not.
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Lost in anger
TheLittleSongbird9 June 2019
'Skylight' was a new discovery for me when watching the simulcast of National Theatre Live way back in 2014, and is just a fascinating play in many ways. Written by David Hare, who also wrote screenplays for films such as 'The Hours', 'The Reader' and 'Damage' to name a few. Just remembered about seeing the simulcast when looking through Hare's film and play credits for context after watching and reviewing 'Damage', and remembering vividly my strong thoughts on the production decided to review it.

The National Theatre Live production of 'Skylight', a revival of the original production, more than does justice to the play. To me, 'Skylight' is one of Hare's best plays and the National Theatre Live production of it is among the standouts of that particular series, in a series full of treasures. Anybody wondering what the appeal of Hare, this particular play and of the National Theatre Live series is should get acquainted in some way with them. Whether it is any of the films Hare is credited as screenwriter or as playwright, and, although more expensive than seeing films in the cinema, the National Theatre Live series is very much accessible and at least one production of anything, whether Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter etc, should be given a go.

Anybody reading the basic synopsis thinking that the story would be predictable shouldn't worry. The themes may be familiar and the same goes for some plot elements, but 'Skylight' explores the themes of lost love, hurt and anger in a way that is unconventional. Very like my recent viewing of 'Damage', the themes are handled quite insightfully and there is a good deal of intensity and poignancy in the drama with more guts than one can sometimes find with Hare. There is emphasis on the political elements, filled with passion and fire without being heavy-handed or too over-familiar, but more so on the impact of hurt and lost love has on the characters. The characters are not stereotypical cliches but are instead quite complex, with the different types and the different attitudes to the relationship, which has both fire and tenderness. Kyra is especially interesting and her attitude and how she speaks appropriately makes one feel uncomfortable.

Visually, the production is simple but effective in its simplicity while giving a sense of time and place. The photography is intimate without being claustrophobic. The script is always thought-provoking with a wide gaumt of emotions evoked, how different values are portrayed feeling very relevant and fresh still. Kyra's speech concerning the treatment of social workers, which so many people will identify and agree with. The direction always compels and never confuses while never dumbing down. Actually do not think the play or revival has dated and has instead gotten fresher.

Bill Nighy is a knockout in every sense, showing a lot of initial arrogant swagger but increasingly vulnerability kicks in and Nighy conveys that very movingly. Carey Mulligan plays her identifiable role with understated determination and as much vulnerability as Nighy. The chemistry between them is never less than believable. The same goes for the performance of Matthew Beard, not quite as good as Nighy and Mulligan but he holds his own at least.

In conclusion, fabulous production. 10/10
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