BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Kansas City Actors Theatre

BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Kansas City Actors Theatre

Kansas City Actors Theatre "Skylight" by British playwright David Hare features excellent performances in a top-caliber production running now through June 10th at the H&R Block City Stage inside Union Station. "Skylight" relates a single evening in the life of three people as they relive and reexamine a complicated relationship history.

The play is set in a less than luxurious, walkup apartment in a rundown section of London, England. It is early evening and Kyra Hollis (Katie Karel) has just ridden a city bus across town from her hardscrabble inner-city teaching job.

Kyra is an attractive young woman in her late 30s. She deposits her various bundles, turns on the apartment's space heater, and retreats to run a tub of warm water. Kyra returns to her combination living room/kitchen and is surprised by nineteen-year-old Edward Sergeant (Charlie Spillers) just inside her open front door.

As we eavesdrop on the conversation, a picture of past relationships slowly emerges. Kyra previously had been part of the Sergeant household for a number of years. She is the daughter of a well-to-do attorney. Following college, Kyra strikes out for herself. Edward's mother, Alice, hires Kyra as a restaurant server. Alice sees something special in Kyra, quickly promotes her, and befriends her. Alice invites Kyra to live with her, her husband Tom (John Rensenhouse), and their two children. Kyra helps with the business and with the two children.

Over time, Tom becomes attracted to Kyra. They have a six-year secret affair that ends only when Alice discovers love letters between the two. Kyra abruptly extricates herself from the family and starts a new life three years ago.

Alice becomes ill and dies. It has now been a year since she passed. Tom is having difficulty with his grief, his guilt, and his unresolved feelings for Kyra. Edward and Tom are fighting as fathers and sons are sometimes wont to do when the son passes into adulthood. We are unsure why Edward has felt it necessary to turn up except that it provides a jumping off place for the main body of the piece.

Tom must see Kyra again. He arrives at her door. Kyra also has unresolved feelings. We listen as they relate the hills and valleys of their lives almost in flashback. Unfortunately, life paths have moved in diametrically opposed directions.

BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Kansas City Actors Theatre

All three actors have created memorable characterizations. Karel and Rensenhouse offer layered characterizations in a difficult, often demanding play script. This is almost an actor's master class. The audience roots for the characters to find resolution, but the only possible future may be a platonic friendship between Edward and Kyra.

The play keeps an audience interested if a little disappointed in the denouement. Bret Engle's set is excellent in its attention to detail and for the practical elements to all the set pieces. The two level setting and the moving projections behind give the performance depth that it needs for a mostly two-person cast. Darren Sextro's direction is sensitive and informed.

Tickets for "Skylight" are available at the website.

Photos Courtesy of Kansas City Actors Theatre and Brian Paulette.

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From This Author Alan Portner

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