What’s been boiling below the surface between former lovers comes out over a spaghetti dinner in David Hare’s “Skylight.”
Olympic Theatre Arts’ season opener brings wealthy restaurant owner Tom Sergeant, played by Ron Graham, back into the life of his former employee and now London schoolteacher Kyra Hollis, played by Anna Andersen. Their history and plans for the future unfold over one night as Hollis cooks a real meal in front of the audience.
“Skylight” premieres Sept. 9 and runs for three weekends with a preview on Thursday, Sept. 8, and a pay-what-you-will on Thursday, Sept. 15, both beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Angela Poynter directs the show and says despite debuting in 1995, it remains topical today.
“There are questions about funding education, helping those less fortunate; all questions still being asked especially today,” she said.
“Can we see ourselves on the ideological fence or wall? It provokes us to ask ourselves, how can we fix these problems? Do we side with Tom or Kyra?”
Sergeant reenters Hollis’ life following the death of his wife. He and Hollis haven’t seen one another for three years after his wife learned of the affair and Hollis left.
Graham says Sergeant is a driven business person and claims not to be bound by money.
“He expects to get what he wants because he’s used to throwing money at something and having it happen,” Graham said.
While the restaurant owner may see himself as a good person, he’s seeking comfort on his terms, Graham said.
“He cheated on his wife because he saw a new challenge with Kyra,” Graham said. “Now he wants Kyra back, but he’s not a man who is easily satisfied.”
Andersen said she loves the conundrum inside her character and how it’s revealed in the play.
“This one event in her history, possibly the most emotional, involved hurting someone in a way that is fairly incredible,” Andersen said.
“She’s living this life (as a teacher) and has always been a caring person but some of the people she cared most about, a family, she was instrumental in destroying. She did it for love, but that doesn’t matter when at the end of the day when she says “you no longer believe your own story.”
Andersen said “the two sides of the scale (of love and selflessness) are incredibly difficult to balance.”
While Hollis is the protagonist, Graham said the hard part of portraying Sergeant, or any character, is making him likable.
“Tom is not a bad person,” Graham said. “He does a lot of good for a lot of people on a broad scale. He’s a wealthy man, owns a lot of restaurants, employs a lot of people … it’s just that what could he be doing if he opened his eyes just a little bit to see more of what Kyra sees.”
Graham compares his character to Bill Gates.
“You look at someone like Bill Gates who has realized the money is nice but with having $30 billion opposed to $25 billion, how much good can you do?” he asked. “There are so many experiences you are missing just because he (Sergeant) doesn’t see the people.”
Poynter said Sergeant has built a bubble and lost touch with reality.
“I think we can see that in society today with the uber rich and politicians who have lost touch with the common man,” she said.
At one point, Sergeant’s son Edward, played by Brohm Dason, visits Hollis and compares his father to a zombie — earning money for the sake of gaining more money.
“He’s been working hard on his needs to be met while Kyra has been looking at self-actualization,” Dason said.
“My character wants to get away from his dad because he realized he can go to work for my dad and be loaded the rest of my life, but I’d like to become my own individual. Our two journeys (Hollis and him) are the same and that’s why I come to her.”
Poynter says the play doesn’t say accumulation of wealth or that money is bad.
“(Money) can do a lot of good, but just the sheer accumulation of it is not what makes people happy,” she said.
Through the evening, Poynter said the characters come to a compromise with their relationships.
“There are a lot of good questions that are asked,” she said. “Compromises have become a dirty word. Compromise is definitely needed.”
“Skylight” features adult themes and language and is recommended for adult audiences.
For more information about “Skylight” at OTA, visit www.olympictheatrearts.org or call 683-7326.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.