Review: Skylight's themes are as relevant today as they were back in the 1990s

David Hare’s Skylight can be seen at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

David Hare’s Skylight can be seen at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans until Saturday, June 26. It is also being streamed live for those that want to watch at home. - Credit: Abbey Theatre

David Hare’s acclaimed play Skylight opens a window on to how a love affair between two people on differing sides of the political divide can fail.

It is set in the wake of the Thatcher era but the current production by the Company of Ten at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans does not feel dated.

Rehearsals of Skylight, which is coming to the Abbey Theatre later this month.

Skylight can be seen at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans - Credit: Abbey Theatre

For the themes are as relevant today as they were then, and the division between the two central characters strikes as true in 2021 as it did in the 1990s.

Skylight is a demanding play for the two central characters, Tom, a rich and successful entrepreneur, and Kyra, a teacher in an inner city school.

Passionate lovers in the past, despite the fact he was married and considerably older than her, their attempt to rekindle that previous intensity following the death of his wife falls victim to the huge gulf between their respective views of life.

Directed by Terry Prince and played out on a Company of Ten set which makes you believe it is snowing outside and bitterly cold inside, it is a slow-burning production which springs into life after Tom and Kyra have fallen into each other’s arms.

Russell Vincent plays Tom Sergeant in Skylight at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Russell Vincent plays Tom Sergeant in Skylight at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Abbey Theatre

Russell Vincent as Tom brings all his experience to bear in the role and dominates the production.

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He switches from self-pity that his wife had not forgiven his affair to demonstrating overwhelming self-belief in his business acumen.

You can almost hear him say ‘greed is good’.

Juliette Kulikovs plays Kyra in Skylight at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Juliette Kulikovs plays Kyra in Skylight at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Abbey Theatre

Juliette Kulikovs plays Kyra as the calm voice of reason most of the time, although she matches Tom’s bellicose intensity occasionally.

While he rants about the need to make money, she bemoans the treatment of social workers and their ilk, the strata of society so often hung out to dry when things go wrong.

At first, it is not easy to understand how they were in a passionate affair for six years until his wife found out.

And it takes a while for the rapport between the two actors to ignite but when it does, the production takes off.

Arthur Roberts completes the cast as Tom’s son Edward, the character that effectively sets the scene for what is to come and what has happened between his father and his former paramour.

The fact that Skylight has not dated other than in small details such as the landline phone and antiquated furniture is its strength. Its themes are as relevant today, around 30 years later, as they were then. 

Watching the Company of Ten production makes you wonder if anything has changed at all.

Skylight runs until Saturday, June 26 and can be seen both on stage and livestreamed. Tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk


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