Review by Judith Robinson
British playwright, David Hare’s powerful, evocative, award-winning drama, Skylight, at Can Stage’s Berkeley Theatre, is about bridging gaps – between the sexes, generations and economic groups. This is Hidden Cove Productions first theatrical production.
In the context of Margaret Thatcher’s rabidly individualistic London, two former lovers – wealthy businessman, Tom Sergeant, played by Lindsay G. Merrithew, and teacher to the underprivileged, Kyra Hollis, played by Sara Topham – try to connect with one another. They are lost in ideologies; strongly-held beliefs; and patterns of behavior. They refuse to change, own their mistakes or adapt to the other’s viewpoint. Honest self-revelation becomes impossible. Photo of Merrithew & Topham in a dramatic SKYLIGHT moment … by Matthew Plexman
They point out faults, strip away illusion and expose their vulnerabilities. They dance around each other desperately wanting something – but they don’t know what – perhaps a sense of who they are and what they’re meant to do. The emotional tension is palpable.
The wire that connects the couple is faulty – sometimes creating sparks that flicker into a warm cohesive light – at other times giving them almost fatal shocks before plunging them into isolation and darkness. Lighting designer, Davida Tkach, uses light to its greatest effect to reflect the script’s themes – turning small lamps on and off, sending illumination through a skylight to indicate the weather and the time of day – seamlessly altering the mood and the emotional climate.
Merrithew’s portrayal of a powerful business magnate who can’t relate emotionally is spot on, authentic and heartwarming. Audience members will have met a dozen Merrithews – but never fully understood them – until now. Topham’s performance was compelling – but less convincing, partly due to Hare’s failure to fashion a realistic teacher. Tim Dowler-Coltman, as Edward Sergeant, put in the best performance of the evening, as Tom’s eighteen-year-old son – a refreshing renegade who refuses to dance to his elders’ tune. He is compassionate, open-minded, self-revelatory and comical. In him, the audience sees hope for the future of Londoners and for humanity. This script is filled with unanswered questions – as most great scripts are – and that’s the beauty of it. The audience leaves wondering what happened and why – and the images refuse to leave the mind long after the play has ended. See this one. Skylight is playing at the Berkeley Theatre until July 9th.