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BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Holden Street Theatres

Early bookings are strongly advised

BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Holden Street TheatresReviewed by Barry Lenny, Thursday 14th January 2021.

Verendus Theatrical had planned to stage David Hare's Skylight in March 2020, but COVID-19 put paid to that. Now, with the support of Holden Street Theatres, and its multi-award-winning resident theatre company, Red Phoenix, it is finally going ahead, under the direction of Tim Williams. The play was written in 1995 and, in 1996, won the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award. Williams has assembled a great cast and crafted a sensational production.

Kyra Hollis and Tom Sergeant are poles apart. They met when she was only eighteen and had applied for a job as a waitress at his restaurant. She was soon to become a trusted and valuable employee, in an administrative role, and a close friend to all of the family. She now teaches in an East London school, and he is a rich and successful restaurateur with a chain of establishments. Years before, she had lived with the Sergeant family, but left the home and the business, suddenly, when Tom's late wife discovered that they had been having an affair that had begun almost as soon as they had met, and had lasted for six years.

It is now years later, and a year after Tom's wife, Alice, had died from cancer. He had had a new house built, with a room designed to give Alice, in his mind, at least, pleasant and peaceful surroundings for her final days. It had a skylight, a vast glass roof, looking out onto greenery. During this time whole time, there had been no communication, whatsoever, between Kyra and any member of the Sergeant family, until now, that is.

Tom's son, Edward, arrives at Kyra's very basic flat in North West London, still upset about her seeming to cut herself off from the family, particularly from him, because he had seen her as a surrogate older sister and feels that she deserted him. He is also concerned for the state of his father. Later in the evening, Tom also arrives unexpectedly, brought there by his driver, Frank, seeking an explanation for her sudden disappearance. While she cooks him a meal of spaghetti, they talk of their past relationship, bicker, argue, and, by turns, become closer, and further apart.

Although they do not appear, Alice and Frank are important characters in the play, catalysts for much of the conversation.

The whole play takes place in the one sparsely furnished room of the run-down flat that serves as a sitting room, kitchen, and dining room. The kitchen is functional, and Kyra boils water for tea and cooks a meal of spaghetti. Eating before attending the performance is advised, as the smell was tempting. The bathroom and bedroom are offstage. There is one small electric heater that has little effect on warming the cold space (it snows outside), she has no television, and does not read newspapers. On the long bus ride to the school and back, she reads books and listens to the conversations of the other passengers.

Professionally trained, Alicia Zorkovic, plays the central character, Kyra, who is onstage for the entire play. Her vast experience onstage shows in her interpretation of the role, covering almost every imaginable emotion, from joy to devastating sadness, complete calm to intense anger.

Tom is played by another highly experienced and award-winning actor, Brant Eustice, in yet another of his powerful performances, beginning subtly, as his character tries to win over Kyra, then turning bombastic, belligerent, as he bullies her, criticising her lifestyle and choices.

The two explore the relationship of their characters in all of its complexities and subtleties, developing their individual personalities at the same time..

Jackson Barnard is Edward, who sets up the play durin his first visit, and offers a ray of hope in his brief second visit at the end of the play. His sensitive reading of the role gave a degree of naivety to his character and brought a lightness to passages of the narrative.

Topping off this terrific production is lighting by the indefatigable, Richard Parkhill, who now seems to be working for most of Adelaide's theatre companies, and the original music is provided by composer, Tim Edhouse.

With reduced seating capacity due to having to maintain the mandated minimum distancing, early bookings are strongly advised.

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