Home / Music & Arts / 'Skylight' review: Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy on Broadway

'Skylight' review: Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy on Broadway

There's a great divide between Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in "Skylight."John Haynes

There’s a great divide between Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in “Skylight.”

The Bolognese sauce that simmers on a working stove in “Skylight” looks good enough to eat, but this much-admired play about exes who try to reheat their passion isn’t always so palatable.

As romances go, David Hare’s mid-1990s drama of a May-December affair stirs the brain with its still-topical thoughts on class divides and politics as well as how well opposites ultimately attract. The heart, meanwhile, is all but bypassed.

The setting is a freezing apartment in down-and-out London where Kyra (Carey Mulligan) lives. Bob Crowley’s eloquent set captures the flat’s claustrophobia-inducing dinginess. On a frigid winter night, Tom (Bill Nighy), a London restaurateur who relishes his smart clothes and posh life, has trekked to this hardscrabble part of town, far from his luxurious home.

They share a messy history. Three years earlier, Kyra walked out of Tom’s life after his wife found out about their six-year affair. Now widowed, Tom is racked with guilt and hopes to reconcile. But Kyra, who previously made peace with cheating and liked all the fine things Tom’s money bought, has rebooted her life. She’s dedicated to teaching underprivileged kids. She sees herself as being like disregarded social workers who “clear out society’s drains.”

Tom scoffs at her life, her apartment, her choices. He rails at her for serving a sort of penance in a place and job where she doesn’t belong. He’s a narcissist; everything’s about him.

Matthew Beard is a sweet blast from the past in David Hare's drama.John Haynes

Matthew Beard is a sweet blast from the past in David Hare’s drama.

So the philosophical gulf between the materialist and a newly minted idealist is even wider than the somewhat distracting 35-year gap between the two stars. Director Stephen Daldry underlines the divide by having the actors face off on either side of the stage. Not subtle. And the duo’s debates are black-and-white as well.

There’s never much question about how things will end. But the stars make it intriguing with their contrasting portraits that open another chasm between the characters. Nighy is all tics and poses and ants-in-the-pants restlessness. Mulligan is calm and measured — and even at her most self-righteous, she never sounds like she’s preaching. She even makes the melodramatic move of tossing a drawer of silverware work.

Scenes with Tom and Kyra are bookended by ones with Kyra and Tom’s 18-year-old son, Edward (a terrific Matthew Beard), who’s there for sweetness, nothing more. A glimpse of what Tom used to be like? Maybe. It’s no fluke that light pours in from windows in the building next door. It makes for a vaguely hopeful and moving end.

Better late than never.

jdziemianowicz@nydailynews.com

Tags:
theater reviews ,
carey mulligan ,
bill nighy ,
matthew beard

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Music & Arts – NY Daily News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Read previous post:
Lupica: Kevin Ollie still a champ for taking on Indiana law

Eric Gay/AP Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie makes point about discrimination by skipping trip to Indiana for this weekend’s Final Four....

Close