SKYLIGHT by David Hare, directed by Dennis Garnhum, with Brandon McGibbon, Yanna McIntosh and Joseph Ziegler. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman). Runs to October 28, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday and Sunday 2:30 pm. $24-$30, Sunday pwyc-$15. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNN
skylight is playwright david Hare's analysis of the mucky end of an affair and the attempt to resurrect it. Restaurateur/hotelier Tom (Joseph Ziegler) and his employee and family friend Kyra (Yanna McIntosh) had a long-term affair until Tom's wife Alice found out. Now, three years later, Alice is dead and Tom's son Edward (Brandon McGibbon) wants to bring Kyra and Tom back together.
During a night and early morning in Kyra's apartment, the impassive, practical Tom and the warm-hearted but guarded Kyra bandy about their history and possible future. While there are moments of sexual and emotional tension between them in the first half, Ziegler doesn't mine the subtext to suggest Tom's pain and confusion. That problem is partly due to the fact that director Dennis Garnhum hasn't sorted out Tom's anguish, past or present.
Things improve in the second act, as Tom opens up warily and Ziegler reveals the knots into which Tom's tied himself. Hare also works in another source of tension here, pitting the capitalist Tom -- with his "carpaccio- and ricotta-stuffed restaurants" -- against the left-leaning Kyra, who's become a teacher in a poor area of town and believes in the good she can accomplish. Hare weaves the political so seamlessly with the personal that the audience isn't aware at first that the play's scope has widened.
And the skilful Hare doesn't simply play good liberal against bad businessman. Tom is perceptive about Kyra, and his barbs hit targets in her arguments. It's part of McIntosh's extraordinarily rounded performance -- she supplies all the tones in this divided character -- that we understand Kyra's weaknesses as well as her strengths.