This was the first play I’ve seen screened live at my local cinema (aside from the Phantom 25th concert it was the first event I’ve seen screened live at any cinema) and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
NT Live As A Platform
I’ve always understood the appeal from the distributor’s point of view. My economist’s head played it out as a way capturing a fragment of the market that is unlikely to see the production in the flesh, by offering a lower quality product at a cheaper price. It turns out that although the ‘product’ offers a different experience to that of seeing the play at the theatre, it’s still an exceedingly high-quality experience that differs from seeing a standard cinema release quite dramatically.
The production translated to screen incredibly well. The intensity was there, as was the sense of electricity that goes hand in hand with a live performance and I enjoyed the treat of an up close view of the actor’s emotions (literally seeing the glinting tears in their eyes). The experience felt a lot more organic than your average trip to the cinema.
However, I did find the camera blocking a little distracting. The cameras focused predominantly on the character speaking, cutting to and from the actors as they spoke their lines, meaning other character’s reactions to those lines were often missed. I think I would have preferred a static camera giving an overview of the stage, similar to what you would see if sat in the theatre.
Overall I found it to be a great way of giving a show – that I would never have gone to London to see – a chance. The interval interview with the playwright David Hare was also a nice touch.
Skylight centres on a tangled relationship of love that highlights the fractured viewpoints between members of British society. It’s strange, from the interval interview it was clear that David Hare (the playwright) intended his work to have a left wing slant; but I found the piece to present both sides of the coin with equal measure. My views tend to lean towards the right, however, my allegiance with the two central characters (Tom, played by Bill Nighy & Kyra played by Carey Mulligan) seemingly flipped with every line they spoke. I do wonder whether the play offers a mirror for one’s political views – perhaps I’m more liberal than I thought!
The play features a total of three cast members, with the third being Matthew Beard who played Edward (Tom’s son). No more than two characters are ever on stage, with each act being played out in real time over the course of an evening. This resulted in some prolonged, intense, two handed scenes. I was in absolute awe of both Nighy & Mulligan. As someone who has trouble speaking their own words for longer than two minutes; I was fascinated to watch these actors being able to inhabit their characters to the extent that 45-minute intricate conversations could be delivered with such realistic accuracy.
It’s a play where not a lot actually happens, being more focused on the thoughts of the two main characters at that specific point in time. But it is intensely captivating, funny at times, with an inherent sense of grounded realism that was enhanced by the simplistic set and stunning performances by the cast. Overall I give Skylight a rating of 4/5.