“Skylight” is a play of class, privilege, and the power of choice

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A scene from
A scene from "Skylight" at McCarter Theatre

David Hare play is very intriguing

McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton closes out its 2018-2019 season with David Hare’s award-winning 1995 play Skylight directed by artistic director Emily Mann. This three-character play examines how the balance of power between class members can flow and change based on one’s choices and the level of commitment to those choices. It is an intriguing play, worth seeing for its relevance to the ongoing problem of class privileges in today’s society.

A scene from "Skylight" at McCarter Theatre
A scene from “Skylight” at McCarter Theatre

The play takes place in a dingy flat in north-west London. Teacher Kyra Hollis (Mahira Kakkar) has a surprise visitor: Edward Sergeant (Zane Pais). Kyra lived at one time with the Sergeant family but left after her affair with Tom (Greg Wood), his father and a successful restaurateur, was discovered by his mother. Since Edward considered Kyra as a sister, he felt betrayed by her departure.

Edward informs her that his mother died the previous year. Later in the evening, after Edward has left, Tom appears. Tom ridicules Kyra’s choices of living quarters and occupation to the point of insulting her, claiming not to see any reason for them or her leaving. Their differing opinions of her choices do not stop them from acting on their still-smoldering physical attraction to each other, although the cold light of reality soon intrudes.

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A scene from "Skylight" at McCarter Theatre
A scene from “Skylight” at McCarter Theatre

Emily Mann has guided her actors through the emotional twists and turns of Skylight. All three actors give fine performances, with Ms. Kakkar and Mr. Wood relishing the verbal pyrotechnics of their scenes together. Mr. Pais’s Edward, while not having as much stage time as the others, outlines the history behind Kyra and Tom’s meeting and serves as a contrast to his father. Beowulf Boritt’s set is a picture of shabby utility, with appropriately gloomy lighting by Jason Lyon.

While the first act seems a bit talky with a “where did that come from?” ending, the second act more than makes up for it. McCarter Theatre Centre has come through with another interesting dramatic offering, one that may well be worth seeing. For a different take on the class struggle, you will not be disappointed by spending an evening at Skylight.

A scene from "Skylight" at McCarter Theatre
A scene from “Skylight” at McCarter Theatre

Skylight is presented by the McCarter Theatre Center at the Berlind Theatre on the campus of Princeton University through June 2nd. For tickets and information, visit mccarter.org.