Quitting the Media III: Skylight!

I went to see the latest incarnation of David Hare’s play “Skylight”, which is being streamed into New Zealand theatres via NTLive. This new one stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, and you should go see it if you can. It’s 3 hours long, but with a 20 minute intermission and it doesn’t drag at all. (Here’s the Guardian’s review, from which I, ahem, ‘borrowed’ the pix… and here’s a good discussion from the Observer)

Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in "Skylight". Photo borrowed from the Guardian.

Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in “Skylight”. Photo borrowed from the Guardian.

Nighy plays Tom, an older businessman/restaurateur who is visiting his former (much younger) lover, Kyra, a few years after she walked out, and one year after his wife, Alice, has died. They had a 6-year affair until Alice found out, prompting Krya to leave. She’s now living in a less salubrious part of town working as a teacher in a tough school. The play was seen when first written and performed in 1995 as a critique of Thatcherism, and everyone’s talking about how “relevant” it is to our present time. Agreed.

However, I’m excerpting a bit here for how it speaks to my “Quitting the Media” series. Snap!

Kyra: [Responding to a question from Tom] No. I’m afraid I’ve stopped reading the papers.

Tom: What are you saying? Not altogether?

Tom is taken aback, but Kyra is going on, amused at her own story.

Kyra: It’s funny, I remember my father. Dad used to say, ‘I don’t watch the news. I don’t approve of it.’ I used to say, ‘Dad, it’s the news. It’s the news, for God’s sake. How can you not approve of it?’ But I must say, now … perhaps I’m my father’s daughter…I tend to think that he had a point. I don’t have a television either.

Tom: But that is just crazy. You’re …

Kyra: What?

Tom: Well, you’re missing what’s happening. You’re missing reality.

Kyra: Oh, do you think?

Even Tom is only half-serious, knowing his argument doesn’t sound too good. And Kyra is completely unfazed.

I just noticed the papers were full of … sort of unlikeable people. People I couldn’t relate to. People who weren’t like the decent people, the regular people I meet every day at the school. So I thought, I start reading this stuff and half an hour later, I wind up angry. So perhaps it’s better I give it up.

Tom: So what do you read?

Kyra: On the bus I read classic novels. Computer manuals. It’s like that game. Name a politician you actually admire. So what is the point of sitting there raging at all the insanity?

Bill Nighy and Stella Gonet in the 1997 production. Photo also borrowed from the Guardian.

Bill Nighy and Stella Gonet in the 1997 production. Photo also borrowed from the Guardian.

An Aside About Sexism, Or Something…

I’m tacking this bit on last because it’s not really related to the issue at hand, but I couldn’t help thinking about how come Bill Nighy got to play Tom in 1997 when he was 48 opposite Stella Gonet, as Kyra, when she was 34. Now, in 2014, Nighy gets to play Tom when he’s 64, opposite Carey Mulligan, who is 29. Stella Gonet, who’s now 51 clearly couldn’t be a contender, as they say.

Stella Gonet in 2013

Stella Gonet in 2013

I actually thought the age difference in this 2014 version wasn’t particularly believable. It looked all of its 35 years and more. I guess Mulligan was an audience drawcard, and she did a good job. But, jeez, that part where she says “apart from anything, I’m older than most of the teachers”. I mean, really! If anything, Mulligan looks younger than her 29 years…

Aging in women and aging in men: it’s like we’re different species.

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