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Review of Skylight by David Hare (Understudy Performance) at Wyndham's Theatre, London

When I attended Skylight on 14th June, I was there purely for the stars, two of my favourites, Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. It was a dream package for me when I heard it announced and there was no doubt that I would take the opportunity to see it live. The tickets were steep, very steep, £100 in the stalls, which seemed a ridiculous amount for a three hander, so I settled for the gods and my £20 in the grand circle. It was superb as I knew it would be and I was very impressed by David Hare's play as well, which as I say was secondary with no knowledge of it when I booked.

Almost exactly a month later I was watching the play again live at a closer perspective, albeit being seventy miles from the theatre via National Theatre Live. Again I marvelled at the performers, but grew to like the play a little bit more as I sat in the plush seats of the Errol Flynn Filmhouse in Northampton.

Therefore when on July 30th via @MichaelBott on Twitter the opportunity arose to see the play sans those stars that I coveted and were the only reason I had seen the play in the first place, I well, yes jumped at the chance. The play was excellent and this was without doubt a fascinating opportunity to see an excellent play from a totally different angle. It was too good to miss, so I made my way once again to London on the 7th August.

What other opportunity could I ever have of having my name on a guest list at a plush West End theatre? Giving my name at front of house and having my name ticked off a list, I had finally made it! Well to Wyndham's theatre anyway...

Sit where you want I was told, and directed towards the stalls. Hey, this was great, I not only had a free ticket, I was even allowed to sit where I jolly well liked. J15 I selected, a seat which I believe was going to be occupied by someone paying around £100 for the evening performance. Dead centre of the seating, and I could see directly through the centre of the set and through the doors letterbox.

The lights went down and Kyra was on stage unpacking her bags (careful with that milk!) and this time this wasn't Carey, this was Sarine Sofair and all of her wonderful red hair. It seemed weird at first seeing a different person but then Matt Plumb arrived as Edward Sergeant wielding his rap CD's and the script was flying. There was a difference, sure. There always would be, but this was quality stuff all the same, just missing the star names.

Michael Bott was soon striding across the balcony as Tom Sergeant and he was surely going to have the bigger task of creating a different role. I was pleasantly surprised that he played it his way, I am sure for an actor they have to. This was not Bill Nighy-lite, this was Michael Bott playing a role. There were none of the Nighy twitches or the mouth wipes, and I would not have wanted to see them.

I said in my Skylight review (here), that I was a tad disappointed with Mulligan until Nighy arrived and oddly enough this happened again for Sofair. I can only assume that for me that in that opening scene the character of Edward is much stronger than Kyra. As once again when Sofair and Bott were together the character of Kyra and therefore Sofair's performance rose tremendously. They were a tremendous partnership and gelled in much the same way as Mulligan and Nighy for me. So much so that, although I will never see it, I would have been fascinated to have seen what it would be like to see either of them perform with their opposite main star number.

Overal they were excellent and I think that it was a superb idea that the understudies were allowed this performance, I have no idea if this is a common occurrence in the West End. If not it most certainly should be as it is I am sure the least the producers of these plays could do. I am glad that I was given and took the opportunity to see this. A heartily worthwhile day.

*

As a side note, I would say that if you happen to have been given the opportunity to see a play like this for free. Perhaps you would have the decency to person one and two: turn your mobile phone off during the performance, person three: don't have it on vibrate and allow it to go off several times during the performance, and person four: do not take photos during the performance.


Performance viewed: Thursday 7th August (matinee) at the Wyndham's Theatre, London

Skylight runs until 23rd August 2014 at the Wyndham's Theatre, London
Details at: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Skylight/Skylight.asp
Details of future National Theatre Live Encores may also be found here: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout6-skylight

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