OFFBEAT: Court Theatre's 'Skylight' interesting view of complicated relationship

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-01-22T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Court Theatre's 'Skylight' interesting view of complicated relationshipBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

In today's constant communication society of Facebook explanations and social media descriptive profiles, there's a popular (and purposely) vague option users can embrace.

Rather than defining a "relationship status" as "dating," "married" or "single," there's also an option of declaring to the world "It's complicated."

This two-word explanation is intended to simply tell others that whatever interaction two people are having (or not having) is so confusing, the two people involved also likely don't even understand what's transpiring.

"It's complicated" is a perfect way to describe the sorting out of past and present problems between the fascinating two lead characters in David Hare's three-person play "Skylight," which opened over the weekend at Court Theatre in Chicago.

Directed by William Brown, "Skylight," which clocks in at two and half hours with one intermission, runs until Feb. 10 and offers emotional and entertaining interaction. As you smell spaghetti sauce simmering from the stage, it's just as easy to detect desire.

This stage story first premiered at the National Theater in Great Britain in 1995 and is long overdue for another telling on the scale that Court easily accomplishes. "Skylight" was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Play in 1996 and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play in 1997.

On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis, played with just the right amount of perplexity by Laura Rook, receives an unexpected visit from her former older and distinguished lover, Tom Sergeant, played with brilliance by Philip Earl Johnson. The latter is a successful and charismatic restaurant owner whose wife just passed away.

As the night wears on, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual attraction.

Matt Farabee, who only appears briefly at the beginning and end of the story, plays Edward Sergeant, the leading character's son.

This is a plot which has plenty to offer, including a feast of details to help the audience understand just how many levels there are to past lives of the two crossroad lovers. However, it's important to pay close attention, or much can be missed.

I was never quite clear about how the two were associated with each other, besides a reference that she had worked for this married man who eventually became the other half of her long term romantic affair. Since there are a few mentions that she "left his family," I wasn't sure if she had worked as a nanny, cook, secretary or housekeeper. As it turns out, the answer is she was employed as a waitress.

While Johnson and Rock capture the intense and, at times, awkward chemistry, between the two, he still seems a bit old for the "20-year age gap" referenced.

The creative team includes Todd Rosenthal for scenic design, having built and amazing, chilly apartment flat with working stove and sink. Rachel Healy provides costume design and Jesse Klug captures lighting design to ideally set every tone and mood.

Now in its 58th season, Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago, close and convenient and with a free parking garage. Tickets are $45-$65 at (773) 753-4472 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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