The theatre, two words that can strike terror into the hearts of many right-thinking people. Werner Herzog the famous German film director doesn’t like it. All that ‘ridiculously shouting’’ has made him swear off the art from for life. Though that hasn’t stopped him producing operas, which surely must be a definition of the phrase ridiculous shouting.
Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan are here to tell him that he is utterly wrong with their appearance on Broadway in David Hare’s Skylight.
It’s a play set in early nineties London a place and time I know well because I lived there myself at precisely that moment.
Nighy plays a wealthy businessman who has recently lost his wife to cancer. Mulligan plays the woman whom he’d had an affair with during the last 6 years of his marriage.
On a bitterly cold London night they are reunited and proceed to pick through the bones of their now defunct romance. Sounds like a reason to stay in and watch TV? Well you’re not taking into consideration the brilliance of the writing and deftness of the performances, which together turn the potentially hackneyed into the utterly sublime.
Everything from the immaculately staging to the plays structure which bookends the meeting of the ex-lovers with the appearance of Nighy’s teenage son.
The boy, played by Matthew Beard, shares many of his father’s mannerisms and personality traits both good and bad through light on Nighy’s character showing us what lurks beneath the sometime bluff exterior.
At the heart of the thing however is the wonderful interchange between Nighy and Mulligan. Nighy swaggers about with much bluster before periodically breaking down to reveal an unexpected heart. While Mulligan acts as the still center of the piece, soaking up the rage of both father and son before launching into her own bitter tirade against her ex-lover. By the end you love them both for bringing you closer to a true understanding of the ultimate messiness of relationships, which leave us wanting to apportion blame while at the same time feeling the guilt of our own transgressions.