BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Berlind Theater Ends McCarter Season

BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at Berlind Theater Ends McCarter Season

When is desire not enough?

Former lovers are reunited and grapple with this and other questions in a new production of SKYLIGHT. From esteemed playwright David Hare, the play has graced the stages of the West End and Broadway and is now playing in Princeton, New Jersey. SKYLIGHT is the final show of director Emily Mann's penultimate season as artistic director and resident playwright of McCarter.

SKYLIGHT opens with Kyra coming home to her dilapidated apartment with groceries. A schoolteacher in her thirties, Kyra lives alone without central heating and works with children who have been deemed by some as a lost cause, a charity case for someone with as much intelligence and talent as Kyra possesses.

Eighteen-year-old Edward suddenly arrives at Kyra's door, surprising his former housekeeper who has been estranged from his family for several years. Edward reveals that his mother died a year ago from cancer and his father has become cantankerous as a widower, asking Kyra if she could visit her former employer to help Tom straighten out.

Shortly after Edward leaves, Tom rings Kyra's doorbell, giving her a second unexpected guest in the same night. Tom, at least 20 years Kyra's senior, reminisces about his six-year affair with his housekeeper and the guilt he felt after Kyra abandoned the family and left Tom with a dying wife and broken marriage. The estranged couple spends time bickering and catching up before passions rise and fall as they confront the uncomfortable truths of their pasts and where that left them.

As Kyra, Mahira Kakkar has a lot of work to do, but does an admirable job, remaining on stage for practically the entire show and providing the emotional basis for Greg Wood's Tom to work from. The veteran Wood plays with the text to give his character many levels of complexity. Zane Pais isn't on stage much but does a wonderful job to flesh out Edward.

With the entirety of the action taking place within about a 12-hour span and a single location, a London flat, SKYLIGHT never draws attention to itself and never considers flashiness. Everything, from Tony winner Beowulf Boritt's set to Montana Levi Blanco's costume design is subdued with a dreary gray playing a prominent role on stage. Mann's laid-back directing allows Hare's script and the deftness of the actors to take center stage.

SKYLIGHT rewards patience, with a slow-building conflict at the heart of the realistic dialogue. Throughout most of Act 1, we see Kyra preparing supper in real-time, with each peel of an onion and every slice of bread serving as a parallel to her dramatic narrative and characterization. As she stays still in the comfort of her own kitchen, Tom bounces around the rest of the apartment as a stranger surveying the new territory.

Act 2 opens fresh wounds, especially in political conversations that feel timeless. The mid-1990s London setting is irrelevant as the difference in perspectives between Tom and Kyra is nearly universal.

Skylight is playing at McCarter's Berlind Theater through June 2. Tickets start at $25 and more information about the play and sales can be found at www.mccarter.org/.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of T. Charles Erickson and McCarter Theater


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From This Author Matthew Michaels