A window on another world

Tense moment: Kyra Hollis (Bhupinder Kaur Dhamu) and her former lover Tom Sargent (Martin Walker)

Skylight

Highbury Theatre Centre

****

WHEN you take on a David Hare play you had better be prepared to be taken out of your comfort zone, especially as performer.

On the surface Hares work often seems easy to define but as his plots unravel you begin to see the multiple layers of his thinking and where another writer might be happy with the primary narrative, Hare adds a wider perspective on a range of social issues that conflict and overlap.

Some of the biggest talents on the stage have taken on Skylight to great success so it's a brave step for the Highbury Players to take on such a complex play.

Kyra is a young woman now living in a rundown flat. Three years ago she had walked out of an affair that had lasted six years whilst actually living as a guest in the household of her married lover.  

The play is set over a 12 hour period and firstly the son Edward Sargent, and then her former lover Tom Sargent separately arrive, both unheralded on one winters night. What follows is a painful and detailed analysis of their lives, the affair and the people they have now become.

Kyra Hollis is played by Bhupinder Kaur Dhamu. Kyra is now working as teacher in an inner city school and her work and circumstances are now her vocation. She's developed a strong independent view but clearly has regrets about her past.

Dhamu crafted a detailed portrait of her character and showed great range in developing Hare's argument s of the needs of disadvantaged children in a marginalised inner city education system.

These lofty social aspirations are in complete contrast to Tom Sargent her former lover played by Martin Walker. Tom is a successful restaurateur, complete with chauffeur and a Caribbean summer home. At times Mr Walker stumbled through some of the lines but the role of Sargent is both contradictory and complex and something of a challenge yet overall he managed what is a tall order for any actor.

John Higgs playing Edward Sargent at first seemed a little nervous in the intimate space of the studio theatre but opened and closed the play with confidence.

Skylight is a superb piece of writing and whilst director Alison Cahill kept things on track, she at times missed some of the tension that might be present in two former lovers meeting for the first time after years of separation.

The best moments came in the full on arguments when Kyra and Tom go head to head to defend their respective career and political positions. Both actors seemed free to run with the dialogue and relished the opportunity to throw a few props around. I was concerned though when a hand full of cutlery was hurled under a counter but towards the audience with considerable force.

The play is an exceptional observation of the remnants of two former lives and whilst some of the reasons for why the rendezvous is happening now are never explained you do get caught up with the story.

Even though some of the layers available within the play perhaps remain untapped, the Highbury players have delivered yet another superb dramatic studio production. To 02-03-13.

Jeff Grant  

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