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Review Roundup: SKYLIGHT Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

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Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy are currently reprising their critically acclaimed West End performances in the hit London production of David Hare's Skylight at the John GoldenTheatre, directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Stephen Daldry. Skylight, which also features Matthew Beard, opens tonight, April 2, at the John Golden Theatre (252 West 45th Street).

SKYLIGHT is designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Paul Arditti, and original music by Paul Englishby.

On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan) receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy), a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship, only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: They are hardly a well-matched pair, this couple that has been given such transfixing life in two of the most expert stage performances you're likely to see for many seasons. As embodied by Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in the heart-piercing revival of David Hare's "Skylight," Kyra Hollis and Tom Sergeant have none of the things in common that usually make for a fine romance...Yet as you watch Ms. Mulligan and Mr. Nighy move magnetically toward and away from each other in Stephen Daldry's exquisitely balanced London-born production...you can't help thinking that on some profound level these two were made to be together...The great achievement of this production from Mr. Daldry...is that it sustains each perspective with crystalline focus...As played by Ms. Mulligan...Kyra is obdurately calm and centered. But Ms. Mulligan achingly conveys just how hard-won this defensive stillness is. She has an uncommon gift for radiating complex layers of feeling by simply inhabiting a space. Mr. Nighy's Tom, in contrast, is a blinding kinetic force, a creature who never stops moving, advancing and retreating in a flurry of knife-edged angles, forever casing out and sizing up his environment.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: ...the three-decade age difference adds interesting layers to Kyra's daddy complex, and Nighy projects such unforced charm and wit that it's easy to imagine him seducing a smart, attractive girl in her twenties. The actor has a peerless way with Hare's caustic dialogue; he's magnetic in sardonic mode, when feigning indifference, in sputtering moments of rage, or letting down his guard to show his creeping desperation...Mulligan is more contained but no less commanding. She's watchful, controlled and wary, almost as if Kyra has played out this encounter many times in her head. And yet she's unable to deny a deep affection for Tom that lingers as undiminished as the hurt. If restless physicality and verbal dexterity are the signature traits of Nighy's performance, it's Mulligan's stillness and emotional transparency, battling with pride and anger, that distinguish her fine work, even navigating some of Hare's speechier passages with naturalness. Daldry has drawn three exquisite performances from his cast, and they lock together both in sharp contrast and in melancholy harmony with one another.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: The fierce pas de deux of love and loss and anguish executed by Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in "Skylight" leaves you breathless -- and wondering how they can sustain this level of emotional intensity throughout the show's 13-week Broadway run. David Hare's 1995 drama, which floored West End audiences when director Stephen Daldry staged it last year with the same great cast, registers as a character-flaying study of ex-lovers whose lives and sensibilities have diverged since they parted. But deep down, it's a scathing censure of the Thatcher government's political legacy of social inequality and economic injustice...Whatever the takeaway for audiences hankering for a good political brawl, it's the tragic clash of human emotions that really stings.

David Cote, Time Out NY: Society looms large in the Stephen Daldry's charged revival of David Hare's Skylight­...Bob Crowley's set...never lets you forget the wider world beyond Kyra's drab, barely heated flat. No matter how bitterly personal -- or airily abstract -- things get between these ex-lovers, you cannot ignore the unseen lives going on behind so many strangers' panes...Not to mislead: The piece is very much a nuanced relationship drama...the material is red meat to actors as fearless and deep-diving as Mulligan and Nighy. He's a haughty whirl of sharp elbow and legs scissoring out like a praying mantis; she balances his edgy antics with a convincingly warm, centered performance -- but one that hides great pain. There's an age difference between the characters, and a power imbalance, but the acting is beautifully matched (Matthew Beard is puckishly charming as Tom's concerned son). To invert a truism, strange bedfellows make politics -- and very interesting ones.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: The sharp writing has Kyra both peeling away Tom's many layers, and peeling onions -- the actress cooks spaghetti Bolognese during the first act, and the theater fills with the tangy smell of the sauce. Mulligan slices and dices as she deploys Hare's complex dialogue, accusing her ex-lover of trying to mask his guilt with exorbitant expenditures...Mulligan makes cooking while acting seem easy; it can't be. Nighy, reprising a role he first played in 1997, is excellent at portraying his irritation with his surroundings, eyeing an unappealing morsel of cheese Kyra has asked him to grate as if it were a personal affront...Nighy's performance is full of that nervous energy that makes him so much fun to watch...Bob Crowley's set captures the anonymous feel of the freezing council flat, with a transparent wall that allows the audience to see beyond to the next set of soulless apartments. The design underscores the very different realities that Kyra and Tom, once inseparable, live in now -- "Skylight" leaves you with the feeling there's no going back for either of them.

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: But Hare's play is not a polemic, and the chasm that has grown between Tom and Kyra owes to more than political differences. In this U.K.-based production, directed with compassion and brutal clarity by Stephen Daldry, both emerge as flawed, sympathetic, believable human beings...This Tom, for all his superficial arrogance, is a man overwhelmed with restlessness...We see the flickers of shame and vulnerability behind his imperiousness. Mulligan's Kyra has her own nervous energy, but is more palpably weighed down by repressed passion, and guilt...Sad-eyed and draped in an oversize sweater, Mulligan seems almost physically transformed by her character's premature weariness...Whether Kyra and Tom can reconcile or not, this Skylight assures us, both will endure -- as will the troubled, contradictory world around them.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: Watching a couple duke it out works only if you also understand what drew them to each other in the first place. But in the new Broadway revival of David Hare's "Skylight," the lovers don't share much, either in love or war...The imbalance of power between them is a key part of the play, and much of that is due to their age difference...But in this production, directed by Stephen Daldry ("The Audience"), the gap has turned into a chasm: There's no getting around the fact that Mulligan is 29 to Nighy's 65...The lack of sexual chemistry between them makes you wonder why Kyra bothers to put up with Tom. It doesn't help that Nighy, who first played the role in 1997, turns on the charm so hard that all we see are mannered tics. In contrast, Mulligan is a marvel of quiet strength...she truly comes alive onstage. And she does it in such an understated manner that it'd be easy to miss how rich her performance is.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: ...Nighy and co-star Carey Mulligan have a brilliant vehicle worthy of their complementary talents. Piloted with exceptional sensitivity by Stephen Daldry and beautifully designed by Bob Crowley and Natasha Katz, this revival is as fine as the original -- while being utterly different in texture, tone and impact...Hare...refuses to stack the deck, giving us full rein to fall under the spell of both Tom and Kyra as they inevitably succumb to the forces that both brought them together and tore them apart...Nighy...exudes a to-the-manor-born elegance that's heightened by the nervous tics of a febrile personality used to getting his way...Mulligan casts a hypnotic spell, playing combativeness and vulnerability in perfect balance. The result is riveting, as absorbing a drama as can be seen anywhere this season, played at the highest level...Skylight is a keeper and this revival is one for the ages.

Malcolm Jones, The Daily Beast: I don't know many authors who can so seamlessly blend comedy and sadness the way Hare does. Or perhaps weld is the better word, because there is no pulling apart the joy and sadness in this play, the outcome of which, while most assuredly inevitable, is never predictable...I can't imagine any actors serving Hare better than these actors do. [Mulligan] inhabits her role as though it were written just for her...She completely embodied the role of the earnest schoolteacher Kyra Hollis...Nighy is Nighy, you could say. He has gestures, inflections, rhythms, and body language that follow him from project to project. All true, and yet I don't know any actor who, at a deeper, more profound level, inhabits a character the way he does...Skylight isn't some exhausting O'Neill-like epic, but it is an intense experience. It picks you up and hurls you along for two hours, and then resolves with such dramatic rightness that you walk out completely satisfied and at the same time all shook up.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Mulligan, in a crackling revival of David Hare's "Skylight" that opened Thursday at the Golden Theater, starts and completes a spaghetti Bolognese during the first act, chopping onions and garlic and boiling water along the way. The whiff of sausage lingers deliciously during intermission. It's a fitting theatrical device because this show, quite simply, cooks. Mulligan, a spectacular Bill Nighy, the marvelous newcomer Matthew Beard and the director Stephen Daldry make alchemy onstage with their own red-hot talent. Funny, poignant and insightful, the West End transfer "Skylight" is a full meal in a place where appetizers often pass as entrees.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: 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.

Jesse Green, Vulture: And yet here they are in David Hare's Skylight, a monkey and a moonbeam, somehow bringing the same story to thrilling life. Nighy, as will be obvious to anyone who saw him in Love Actually or as Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, is the monkey, or perhaps better to call him a Catherine wheel of tics and poses and stutters and quirks. "Mannered" is not a strong enough word to describe the way he creates the illusion of character from a million incessant, if apparently spontaneous, affectations. (At several points, he struts across the stage sideways, his long legs pointing into the wings while his face stares down the audience.) Meanwhile, as she did in An Education and in the 2008 Broadway production The Seagull, Mulligan creates the illusion of character with no affectations at all. In fact, she hardly seems to be doing anything - and then suddenly tears will fling themselves from her eyes, or a smile will rise from some depth to the surface and recede again. She is as rivetingly, radically transparent as he is hilariously baroque, but in the end that's only fitting; the play, one of Hare's best, is about the gap between what's reconcilable and what's not.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Nighy's performance is deliriously over the top, and the night's biggest laugh comes when Mulligan does a spot-on impersonation of her co-star

Photo Credit: John Haynes

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