BWW Review: SKYLIGHT at South Bend Civic Theatre
South Bend Civic Theatre and Director Mark Abram-Copenhaver have produced a quite insightful and interesting show in "Skylight". Written by David Hare, there is very little in the script that takes you into the magical world of 1995 and Mark and his cast keep the show timeless through costuming, big band music being played on a record player, and the decor of the apartment being appropriately understated.
On a chilly night in East London, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Katie Jung-Zimmerman) receives an unexpected visit from Edward Sergeant (Sion Shepley) and, later on the same night, his father Tom Sergeant (Cecil Eastman).
Kyra had been living with the Sergeant family years earlier but left after her affair with Tom was discovered by Alice, Tom's wife, who has since died. Edward now accuses Kyra of having left him as well, as he saw her as a big sister, and he demands to know why she left his life. Shortly thereafter, Tom, a wealthy restaurateur, appears unheralded and for no apparent reason. Tom and Kyra grapple with each other, moving between tender passion and vicious political polemics. As the night darkens, it becomes clear that their chances to be rekindled rest on whether one of them can change preconceived notions of the other. Skylight is a complex and remarkably timeless drama about power, politics, and passion.
As Kyra, Katie is amazingly focused as she has to prep and cook a full spaghetti dinner from scratch for the better part of the first Act of the show. While I was terrified of her actually cutting herself during the show, it was a feat made possible by a fully functioning range and sink on the Wilson stage thanks to the construction crew headed by William Loring.
In contrast, Cecil Eastman, as Tom Sergeant, was able to spend a good deal of the first Act wandering around the set delivering his work stories, complaining about the youth of today, and throwing barbs at Kyra's apartment, which is beautifully immersive, thanks to the scenic design of Jeffrey Barrick.
Both performers get to stop worrying about tea kettles and burning tomatoes in Act Two and really get to shine as they argue back and forth. One of the toughest things to do for a small cast is to make a play about two people talking remain interesting. I will admit that the cooking in the kitchen did draw my attention away from Tom's story about consultants in his business, but I'm sure I was in the minority and, throughout the show, the two actors are able to make you take sides, and sometimes even switch sides as they argue with each other.
The unsung hero of "Skylight" is Edward, played with a James Corden type of charm by Sion Shepley. While Edward has very little stage time, he uses it well and gets us up to speed with exposition about an argument he had with his father and his current state of affairs with a lady. Sion also gets to deeply focus in the second act, while unloading a few styrofoam coolers full of props onto a dinner table and getting one of the biggest reactions of the night with his final touch, a single long stemmed flower he places into a vase.
This show tackles many of the same class structure arguments we are having today. How the rich sees the poor, how the poor sees the rich, and how each of them sees themselves. Mark Abram-Copenhaver has directed his cast well to draw us into the argument, make us wonder whose side we are on, and then, possibly, see things from the other point of view.
"Skylight" continues its run at the "South Bend Civic Theatre" through June 17. Tickets are available on the web at sbct.org or for information by telephone at (574) 234-1112.
photo credit: South Bend Civic Theatre