THEATRE REVIEW: Passion – and spag bol – for night full of spice

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National Theatre Live

South Holland Centre, Spalding

If anyone needs any encouragement to see National Theatre Live events in Spalding, then try booking to see Skylight in London’s West End.

You won’t stand a chance, unless you are prepared to queue first thing at the Wyndham’s Theatre box office in the vain hope of ticket returns (as many were).

I was fortunate to see Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy’s emotional roller-coaster from the comfort of my seat in the South Holland Centre.

David Hare’s 1995 drama is a moving mixture of politics and love and focuses on a Britain scarred by Margaret Thatcher. Tom (Nighy) is a successful middle-aged restaurateur and Kyra (Mulligan), in her late 20s, is a maths teacher in a money-starved East End school. They were lovers for six years, but she left him when his wife discovered their affair. Three years after his wife’s death, they come together for a brief encounter in her freezing high-rise flat.

Nighy delivers some brilliant lines as he almost accuses Mulligan of self-punishment for choosing a hard life in the East End over the privileged existence she enjoyed with him – and anyone in the audience who had experienced forbidden love may well have been wondering whether the suffering was somehow her way of keeping their passions alive.

Certainly, when Tom’s son, Edward (Matthew Beard) turns up in the early hours of the morning with a breakfast prepared by a friend at the Ritz and she willingly tucks in, you have to ask whether she saw in him what had attracted her to his father.

The fact Tom and Edward seemed very similar explains why the characters didn’t get on, as seen in the opening act when Edward turns up at Kyra’s flat asking why she left them.

On a lighter note, it was just as well my colleague and I had managed to fit in a pizza before the production, had it not been a Theatre Live production, because in London you can smell the spag bol cooking on stage.

Even her cooking attracts some great throw away lines from Tom, who watches Kyra prepare a pasta dish, and asks: “Are you putting the chilli in first?” with patronising disbelief.

If all this has given you any food for thought, you might just be able to grab a ticket to see tonight’s National Theatre Live production at the South Holland Centre – a modern adaption of an ancient Greek tragedy, Medea, starring Helen McCroy.

Chrissie Redford