Nighy, Mulligan shine in political love story . . .
IF YOU saw the recent Pieter Toerien-produced Vertical Hour, by David Hare who also wrote this play, it’s an added bonus. Simply because he deals (especially in these two works written in the past 10 years) in contemporary life. He dives into the issues of the day so determinedly, that they seem even more relevant now than when he wrote them.
School teacher Kyra (Mulligan) receives an unexpected visit from her former lover Tom (Nighy) who, according to his son, Edward (Beard), is battling with his wife’s death.
But that’s not the real problem between these two people who are trying to rekindle something that isn’t really missing yet has too many obstacles in the way.
Kyra has returned to teaching because she wants to make a difference in the lives of real people. Her school and her flat are on the “wrong” side of town which disturbs Tom more than having lost her in the first place. He cannot even begin to understand that someone will not opt for all the luxuries in life, something he can give her with little fuss. But she is deeply disturbed by his outlook and he doesn’t even acknowledge there’s a problem.
It’s the divide between those who have and those who don’t which is growing daily with most people simply trying to survive, while others wallow in their riches often cheek by jowl which is escalating into unimaginable horror.
Add to that the playwright, the director and the cast. It’s a brilliant production from the stark backdrop of the rows upon rows of flats hovering in the background, a cameo performance by Beard that steals your heart and the two main protagonists turning this into rivetting theatre/film.
Just after the interval break, Daldry talks about the production, the way he has turned Nighy into a leading man and how the play has grown in stature with problems expanding rather than diminishing.
If you haven’t been beguiled by the bounteous talent of Mulligan yet, in this her debut West End stage production, be prepared to capitulate. She has a sensibility that sweeps you away from the first glance, a voice that slides through emotions and an intensity that catches you unawares.
With Nighy coming from a totally different place, and usually cast as a comical character, this earnest restaurateur who is determined to win his girl back and cannot accept that she won’t succumb, is a gratifying change. Daldry obviously sees something that other directors have mostly ignored and the two have struck a great working relationship.
It’s an intimate look at relationships yet touches on lessons that affect all of us. How we decide to approach the future and the people who either have to survive by their wits or those that think money has all the power is what will determine the kind of world we live in.
● Skylight screens at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Joburg, Pretoria and Durban on tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7.30pm and on Sunday at 2.30pm and in Cape Town at The Fugard Bioscope on Sunday, December 7 at 11am.
BROKEN: Tom Sergeant (Nighy) and Kyra Hollis (Mulligan).