David Hare's Olivier Award-winning London hit, Skylight, not only opened on Broadway on Sept. 19 to almost uniformly strong reviews -- some of the best Hare's plays have gotten in from the U.S. daily press, but has since recouped it's investment, after five weeks of being the top-grossing play on Broadway.
New York Times chief critic, Ben Brantley, called director Richard Eyre's staging "Exquisite" and had equally praiseworthy words for both stars, Michael Gambon and Lia Williams.
"There are very few flaws to pick at," wrote Brantley, ..."otherwise, theatregoing doesn't get much better than this."
Newsday critic Linda Winer essentially agreed, writing, "Skylight, the Olivier-winning drama that finally introduced the amazing Michael Gambon to the American stage last night, is, in its deepest and smartest places, one of the theatre's unforgettable love stories." She, too, gushed over Gambon -- yet immediately made sure to note that Lia Williams was every bit his equal.
Howard Kissel of the Daily News was somewhat less thrilled by the play, finding that ideology eventually overtakes romance in the story: "Too often in these exchanges," wrote Kissel about the dialogue, "we sense the playwright on a soapbox. Tom and Kyra cease to be characters. They become merely representatives of their respective classes. If it were not for Gambon and Lia Williams . . . the play could easily descend into a shouting match." Kissel did go on to say that "whatever the play's shortcomings, it has been superbly mounted," and he had only the kindest words for the actors. On Gambon: "Let's hope we see this towering actor often; on Williams: " . . . a perfect foil. She has an appealing vulnerability and makes Kyra's angry indictments of Tom strong without losing our sympathy for her. Christian Camargo is solid as Tom's confused son."
Clive Barnes, chief critic of the New York Post, lauded Skylight as "luminously beautiful and wildly truthful . . . The staging by Richard Eyre, imported from Eyre's Royal National Theatre in London, is as near to perfection as Hare could have hoped for."
In his rave review for New York Magazine (Oct. 7), John Simon asserted that Hare's "first-rate drama" (along with his Racing Demon), signals a new maturity in his work because he's finally learned to "[make] his characters as interesting as his ideas." Simon went so far as to name Hare and Tom Stoppard (The Real Thing, Arcadia) as the two premiere post-War British playwrights.
Simon concludes his critique thus: "John Gunter's fine set has a diaphanous back wall, suggestive of Alice's skylight... It compels us to look beyond, to search for meanings in a work that abounds in them."
In his Sunday View column in the New York Times (Sept. 29), critic Vincent Canby saw Skylight as an opportunity to "appreciate [Michael Gambon] in all of his insidious charm and bulky, middle-aged flesh on the stage, which is where he belongs. Mr. Gambon's performance illuniates, gives focus to and sometimes appears to ride blithely roughsod over Skylight, a three-character piece in which the playwright's neo-1960's polemics are never disguised as a love story with complete satisfaction."
...Even with her neuroses [Kyra's] the same prototypical do-good Hare Heroine we've seen in Plenty, The Secret Rapture, Racing Demon and `Strapless.'"
For tickets and information on Skylight, call (212) 239-6200. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.