PRINCETON, NJ – Kyra is living on the edge in an upstairs flat in north-west London. When her former employer, and lover, Tom, comes to see her, he is horrified that she will put up with such a sad, paint-peeling habitat.
But we learn, in David Hare’s fascinating “Skylight,” she is making a statement as well as finding fulfillment in teaching poor children in a rundown neighborhood. The play, set in the 1990s, was performed on Broadway with Michael Gambon and in a recent revival with Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, directed by Stephen Daldry.
Before Tom arrives, his son Edward stops by with groceries for Kyra. She has been the au pair in the Sergeant home and left when Tom’s wife learned of their affair. Now his wife has died and, after three years, he seeks out Kyra. It’s easy to see they still love each other, despite sharp differences in age, wealth and politics. As Kyla says, in today’s world ‘making money’ has been glamorized to ‘creating wealth.’
The cast fuses beautifully in this smart, literate play. Mahira Kakkar is Kyra, bringing a non-white dimension to the relationship. Greg Wood is brilliant and facile as Tom, baiting Kyra with his banter and critique of her lifestyle. Zane Pais is Edward, the handsome 18-year-old who appears to have a crush on Kyra. Kyra realizes that Tom’s driver, Frank, is still sitting outside in Tom’s limousine as snow falls. But Tom insists he’s well paid for sitting there and he’s his driver, not really a person or ‘people.’ Again, the inequities abound.
While Kyra busies herself preparing spaghetti on stage, Tom roams around the room with a drink, insisting on ways he could make the apartment more palatable. It’s obviously cold, with only a space heater for warmth as the frigid air seeps in through the windows. Yet the closing scene is especially charming and hopeful, despite what has gone before.
The set by Beowulf Boritt exemplifies the sad sight of a run-down habitat. Lighting by Jason Lyons enhances the changing evening hours and costumes by Montana Levi Blanco clearly define the financial circumstances of the protagonists. Emily Mann has, once again, skillfully directed this fluid, constantly engaging drama.
“Skylight” continues at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton through June 2. For tickets, call 609-258-2787 or visit mccarter.org.