Last night the mister and I enjoyed an electrifying live performance of Skylight at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End. And all from the comfort of our local multiplex in Glasgow.
Live streaming of plays, ballet, opera, concerts and even exhibitions has become quite the thing in the past year or so. Originally the preserve of art house and independent cinemas, organisations such as the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company are now streaming to the masses, both here in the UK and internationally. For about the same price as you might pay to see a 3D blockbuster movie, live streaming allows you to enjoy top-notch entertainment from pretty much the best seat in the house.
Written by David Hare, Skylight was originally staged by the National Theatre in 1995. The current revival – described by one theatre critic as a “Thatcherite play for today” – is directed by Stephen Daldry and stars Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard.
Skylight is an intense drama about money, class, politics and love. The plot pits two ex-lovers – idealistic teacher Kyra (Mulligan) and glib entrepreneur Tom (Nighy) – against each other in a battle of rhetoric played out over the course of a single winters evening spent in a grim North London flat.
Mulligan and Nighy gave exceptional performances in what is essentially a two-hander, their dialogue rattled off at a blistering pace while Mulligan cooked spag bol (on stage, in real time) and Nighy generally interfered. Beard briefly but comically book-ended the action as Tom’s gangly teenaged son Edward (a part that might suit posh-boy comedian Jack Whitehall should he ever consider treading the boards). Watching Skylight via live streaming meant that we were able to catch every subtle gesture and nuance of expression. The production design was also amazing, from Kyra’s flat and its dreary contents to the background soundscape of urban life. The only tricky point came with the curtain call. To clap or not to clap? Afterall, it’s not like the actors could hear us…
Proceedings were introduced by the brilliant Emma Freud, who also returned in the interval for a live Q&A session with Hare. Quite a coup apparently as he literally never gives interviews.
Skylight was our first experience of a live-streamed event and we were rather taken with the concept. Live streaming is not the same as watching a live performance in a bricks and mortar theatre. Nevertheless, for those of us who live far from London’s sphere of artistic influence, live streaming is an adjunct that offers the chance to see productions that we would otherwise miss.
For more information on upcoming live-streaming events: