David Hare’s Skylight opened at the National Theatre on May 4 1995. Directed by Richard Eyre, it starred Michael Gambon, Lia Williams and Daniel Betts – and was instantly acclaimed as a masterpiece, winning the Olivier for best new play for that year. A West End production, in which Bill Nighy and Stella Gonet took over the leading roles, ran in the West End the following year, but it has not been seen since.
In this revival, directed by Stephen Daldry, Nighy returns to the part of Tom Sergeant, a rich restaurateur who seeks out his former lover, now a teacher, living in East London. She is played by Carey Mulligan, and Sergeant’s son Edward by Matthew Beard. The conversations between the trio, in particular the great debate between Tom and Kyra in which their love for each other is tested by their different views of the world, make Skylight riveting drama.
Sarah Crompton: You’ve done this play before, so how does it feel coming back to it?
Bill Nighy: Well, apparently I’ve done it before. I have fond memories of the people involved. I have no memory, any at all, of actually performing the play, no recall in terms of the lines. I can’t tell you any line from any play I’ve ever done. I quoted David Hare one of his lines the other day to illuminate whatever point we were trying to make in the conversation, and I said ‘What play was that?’ and he said ‘It was your line, you said it about a hundred and fifty times in The Vertical Hour.’
SC: Carey, you have never seen it?
Carey Mulligan: No, because it was quite a long time ago. Stephen Daldry mentioned it to me almost two years ago, but I didn’t know anything about the play. So I prayed, as I started reading it, come on, be good. And it was beyond good, so I was thrilled.