Live recording from July 17, 2014 at the Wyndham’s Theatre, London
NTL broadcast Oct 23, Haydn English Cinema Vienna
Written by David Hare
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy, Matthew Beard
Teacher Kyra gets visited by two ‚ghosts‘ from her past in her small east London flat. First Edward Sargeant bursts in, bringing beer and rap CDs and accuses her of leaving his family for no reason. He tells her of the death of his mother and that his father has been impossible to live with since.
Shortly after Edward leaves and Kyra has just started to prepare dinner, Tom Sargeant and his bottle of whisky make an unexpected appearance. In the next hours, while the spaghetti dinner is actually being cooked on stage, Kyra and Tom are not just talking through how they met, became a family and what then happened that tore them apart, but are also throwing a lot of uncomfortable truths at each other. Adding to the already existing conflict is wealthy Tom accusing Kyra of self-punishment and mocking her now unglamorous lifestyle while Kyra is calling him out on being out of touch with reality outside his well-to-do world.
While the production is very 1990s (please don’t bring that kind of jeans jacket back, ever), the play itself is anything but. Even as just a frequent visitor to London who keeps up with the news it is very clear to me that the gap between the Toms and the Kyras is growing bigger every year. Playwright David Hare went into detail regarding the relevance of the play in today’s Britain during the interval interview with Emma Freud and earned applause from the audience for being so frank.
If it sounds like a bleak evening, I can assure you that David Hare didn’t save his humour for interviews; there is also plenty in the play. It’s funny, sad and thought-provoking in equal measure. At one point during the play when Bill Nighy went into one of Tom’s rapid-fire diatribes, I just thought ‘holy ****, that’s a lot of lines there’.
Carey Mulligan (who is on stage the entire time), Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard make their characters believable and real, preventing them from becoming caricatures, which could easily have happened with the two Sargeants who seem to have a knack for drama.
If you have the chance to catch a re-run, go for it and maybe have some spaghetti first.