David Hare’s 1995 play Skylight concerns the clash of world views between Tom – a wealthy restauranteur and unabashed Thatcherite in his 50s – and his former lover and employee Kyra, 20 years his junior, who now works as a teacher in the East End.
It’s a battle between free market individualism and social welfare – plus some post-adulterous recrimination – that all plays out in Kyra’s small, cold Kensal Rise flat.
At one point, Tom claims that “people are no longer people… they’re symbols” for principled Kyra. Yet that’s the problem with Hare’s play, with each character spouting diatribes that sound impossibly scripted (“I’m tired of these sophistries”) and nothing like an actual conversation between people who might be in love. The narrative cogs show, straining to capture the state of the nation and in the process missing any relatable sense of drama.
Rosie Wyatt, an excellent performer, brings spontaneity, stoicism and a winning streak of irony to the role of Kyra, who spends much of the play fruitlessly defending a perfectly decent career choice to the egregiously obnoxious Tom, played with suavity and acquisitive energy by Louis Dempsey. It’s a weakness of the writing that we never see beyond the cynical, smarmy Tory surface.
Roly Botha provides strong support as Tom’s self-conscious teenage son Edward, a privileged boy with a penchant for “rap records”.
Liz Cooke’s set and costume designs are full of enjoyable detail, from the Safeway label on a can of tomatoes to the recognisably 1990s pattern of the kitchen tiles.