Play It Again

Three different theatrical productions pose the same question: Does familiarity breed contempt?

Hare, who has been all over Broadway this past season, is perhaps best known at the moment for The Blue Room, which is itself best known as a vehicle for Nicole Kidman's exposed bust. In Skylight, the playwright reveals his penchant for talky drama with a political subtext--more particularly, the power dynamics of Thatcher-era Britain. Tom, a rich but lonely materialist, is the quintessential Thatcherite, while Kyra, the poor but lonely lefty, represents the compromised Labor position. The obvious domestic correlative might be Tony Kushner's brilliant meditation on the Reagan-era zeitgeist, Angels in America. Yet, Hare's play does not stack up on either artistic or ideological grounds. Where Kushner finds parallels to the political in the personal, Hare merely stuffs rhetoric into his character's mouths. His people are carved in ice--cold and unchanging--and his indignation is so sincere that the play itself seems nothing more than an excuse for political posturing.

Hate the one you love: Kyra (Jennifer Blagen) and Tom (Jon Cranney) enjoy an icy silence in Eye of the Storm's Skylight
Hate the one you love: Kyra (Jennifer Blagen) and Tom (Jon Cranney) enjoy an icy silence in Eye of the Storm's Skylight

Injecting drame à thèse with any real sense of pathos is a tall task indeed, and with the exception of Casey Greig as Tom's son--who seems to have wandered in off the set of a better, funnier play--Eye of the Storm's cast struggles mightily. Cranney and Blagen hit a few good notes in a tone-deaf script, most notably in a bittersweet denouement in which Kyra throws cutlery (symbol of Tom's domesticity) and Tom throws books (symbol of Kyra's intellectual pretensions). Director Larissa Kokernot, too, manages an even pace for the evening (albeit that of continental drift). By play's end, however, Tom and Kyra are no different than when they first entered--only insufferable in slightly different ways.

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