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Review of Skylight by David Hare at Wyndham's Theatre, London

I may have been sitting up in the gods due to the uncomfortably high prices for this London play, but there was little I had looked forward to more than seeing (if I squinted hard enough) than Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in Skylight.

Bill Nighy was an actor for me of the highest quality and coupled with the superb rising star of Carey Mulligan, this was the dream ticket. Even if that ticket was in the grand circle.

I had watched Bill Nighy (Tom) and David Hare at work in the recent Worricker trilogy on BBC and these were plays for television more than television plays and Skylight was much of the same. The lyrical, sparky and often very funny dialogue with sharp undertones of political comment were all there. Once again coupled with Nighy's gangly movement, knowing pauses, high charm and quick delivery, David Hare's dialogue tripped off the page.

Nighy's co-star Carey Mulligan (Kyra) had been a favourite of mine since I saw her in, for me, a star making performance in an episode of Doctor Who a few years ago, and with her star having risen through the intervening years, it was a huge thrill to me to see her live.

Oddly enough I wasn't sure for a bit by her performance as in the opening scene she seemed to play second fiddle with the third and final actor Matthew Beard (making his stage debut). His youthful enthusiasm and obvious confidence on stage stole the first part. However once Bill Nighy arrived, so did Carey's performance build until she was sparking off his performance line for line.

It may just have been an over expectation of mine in her performance. However as the play developed, that star that I admire began to shine to such an extreme that we, the audience were in the presence of two stunning performances. Another comment that I would make regarding Carey is the wonderful clarity of speech that she presents. In a time where recent issues have been made about mumbling actors, it is a true delight to hear a young star speaking so clearly.

David Hare's script is a delight of what I would liken to movement in text form. There is much laughter to be had from the script, but while not overtly political, the second act does dwell heavily on business and schools with some powerful points made, particularly from Kyra's (Mulligan) powerful speech in the second act of why she does what she does.

The design work from Bob Crowley is also very special. In the compact area of the Wyndham's, a council flat with balconies and the opposite block visible has been created on the stage. This coupled with clever wall movement, what might appear a simple stage becomes rather obviously a well realised set.

It also transpires during the play that this a very much a fully working flat and also provides a most glorious smell a vision part of the play. A surprising part, but so cleverly and naturally done that is provides an unexpected thrill.

Overall this is a huge triumph of a show. Star led yes, as many shows in the West End are now, but this time stars of such quality that it is not just about selling the tickets for the name. This play will simply sell the tickets for the shear, superb quality of the show. A must see!

Skylight runs until 23rd August 2014 at the Wyndham's Theatre, London
Details at: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Skylight/Skylight.asp

There is also an NTLive screening of the play at selected venues on the 17th July.
Details at: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout6-skylight

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