note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark
There isn't any nice way to put this. David Hare's celebrated play about love in the afternoon is meretricious soap opera. "Skylight" at the New Repertory Theatre sounds classy because it's British and the British have a way of elevating ordinary talk; but this tedious play about adultery and guilt (and nothing else) goes on longer than the trysting they're all excited about. That's the bad news.
The good news is that Rick Lombardo's direction is crisp and a whole lot more interesting than the play. And Richard Chambers' London living room/kitchenette set is quintessential shabby chic. Even before the play begins you want to meet the fascinating person who lives with all those books.
N. Rose Liberace is in fact the teacher who lives there. Hers is a lovely, many-layered performance, with a core of nobility and strength which wins us clearly to her side in the "who's to blame" game Hare sets up. Brian McManamon plays the teenager, unexpectedly visiting this teacher, with a quirky innocence and genuine warmth. These are characters we'd like to get to know, were it not for the problematic character of the woman's lover --- the boy's father --- a self-righteous businessman twenty years her senior. Hare makes it almost impossible to abide the prig when he belittles her passion for teaching, but John Fitzgibbon deals him the death blow by charging way overe the top. Shouting is not acting; and besides, if you're shouting every line, no one will notice when the script calls for histrionics.
Kudos to John Malinowksi for the muted winter lighting, and to Jana Durland Howland for the character-driven costumes, especially the hip hop baggy get-up for the teenage boy.
We are indebted to the New Rep for bringing the latest national and international hits to Boston. It's a wonder to hear about a New York show and then to be able to see it here the next season. Bravo, New Rep.