“I’m not going to share my mourning with someone from Wimbledon council
‘We’re under Merton now’”
One of the things that is easy to lose sight of as a reviewer is the sense of value for money (or otherwise) that theatre brings. I’m lucky enough to receive some free tickets, in exchange for a review of course, but I also buy a fair few, especially for the bigger shows where there has to be a real consideration about how much one is going to spend on a ticket. A case in point would be the recent Secret Cinema show around The Grand Budapest Hotel – at over £50 a ticket, it was far from cheap but for me, a first-timer with Secret Cinema, it was one of my experiences of the year thus far.
Which is a roundabout way of leading up to saying that we spent £60+ on our tickets for David Hare’s Skylight at the Wyndhams. The payoff was that we secured front row stalls for the privilege and it turned out to be completely worth it. As the vast majority of the play is made up of a two-hander between its two main stars – here Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, both long time absent from the UK stage – the intimacy that we were able to feel, including an absolute ton of direct eye-contact from Nighy, made it well worth the outlay in terms of the experience, as well as the play itself.
The show is still in preview so I’m holding off too much comment but I will say that the combination of Nighy’s loose, almost improvisational style and Mulligan’s focused intensity is really rather special and I hope they don’t lose too much of that before opening night. They play former lovers who meet after a long time apart, both now in different circumstances, and Hare explores an extraordinarily personal world for him – the political is the backdrop for once – as the age-old truism opposites attract comes into play as mutually exclusive worldviews battle mutually held desires.
The real star of the show though is the cooking. During the course of the first half, Kyra and Tom prepare and cook a dish of spaghetti Bolognese which meant we got the added bonus of the delicious smells from the front row. So all in all, I think we definitely got our value for money out of a rare foray into the top end of the price range though clearly, it’s always going to be subjective and I wouldn’t recommend going that close with a big production with a large cast – sometimes a little distance is a good thing. More will come when the Skylight opens…