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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Skylight 

A local production of David Hare’s “Skylight,” a 1995 political/relationship drama that I stumbled upon here at Escape Theatre in Singapore’s Arts at the Old Parliament, was an unexpected pleasure. Director David Waite assembled a strong cast, including journeyman actor Lim Kay Tong and returning local actress Janice Koh, recently back from Boston.

The play is performed in an intimate setting, with the audience surrounding a small and cold East London flat for an overnight journey with Kyra, Tom’s former mistress, who lives there after leaving him. The play tanked in New York some years ago, in a Broadway proscenium stage production that distanced the audience from the setting. Here in Escape’s little home, the relationships are directly in the audience’s faces and hard to distance or dismiss, despite Hare’s occasionally overly articulated monologues and the actors’ sometime slightly uncertain delivery or memory. Koh’s naturally performed underplay of wrenching emotion is especially effective in this production.

The former affair between Koh’s Kyra and Tong’s Tom is dissected and remembered in a ripping postmortem that unearths psychological truths about the characters lives. The story’s presentation also supports a socialist critique of the ownership mentality brought to personal relationships by Tom and illuminates the personal cost of his proprietary approach to his family, his mistress, and himself.

Kyra, with Tom’s son, Edward, played by Daniel Hutchinson, together attempt to balance Tom’s hard-edged dominance with touching bookend scenes that illuminate their need to grow a nascent garden of personal warmth amidst the loss that surrounds them, each mourning their own separate versions of family past.

In a country where one of the questions brought forth in the after-play forum was about whether the ‘vulgarity’ in the script was hard to pass by the censors, this material is a jewel to behold and apparently more of a difficult product to produce than in it’s native London. For an American living in a country where increasingly, monetary value is the measure of all things, it is an oasis.

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