I really don’t know where to start. First of all, I booked this show to see Bill Nighy. I didn’t know anything about the play or the playwright; I just knew that if Bill Nighy was going to be on a West End stage then that’s where I needed to be. The tickets weren’t cheap and I’d love to say it was worth it but it really wasn’t.
I’d spent most of the day in various states of panic – everyone who had been to see the play had said the same thing: Bill Nighy is an absolute gent at the stage door. He was generous with his time and posed for photographs for up to an hour each night. Now I just had to comprehend the fact that I would be meeting the man whose films I had adored for almost eight years. Ha!
The play itself was… awful. There’s no other way to describe it. It has been suggested that maybe I didn’t understand the play and that’s why I didn’t enjoy it, and I find that extremely offensive. I understood it perfectly, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t connect with it on any level and the only thing holding it together was Bill Nighy’s exceptional talent.
The plot was that a young woman, Kyra, (Carey Mulligan) had had a six year affair with an older, married man named Tom (Bill Nighy) whilst living in his family home with his wife and son. When Tom’s wife found out, Kyra disappeared. Shortly after, Tom’s wife died of cancer and a year later he tracks Kyra down. Not exactly earth-shattering but enough to keep the audience engaged, if it were not for the fact that Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan had absolutely zero chemistry. It wasn’t even believable that they’d met before let alone been madly in love for six years. The only thing holding the play together was Bill Nighy – with his charm and grace it was easy to believe that a younger woman could have fallen for him (I certainly did!)
Carey Mulligan, on the other hand, was absolutely dire. She was so preoccupied with ensuring her diction was perfect and her voice carried that she forgot to inject any kind of personality into her character, and created a role so instantly dislikeable that the entire plot was ridiculed. Even her character’s appearance was infuriating – an incredibly baggy jumper she didn’t stop messing with for the entire play and a chin-length hair cut that she was constantly pushing behind her ears, only to have it fall directly back into her face. It was so frustrating!
Despite my grievances I sat quietly in my seat and basically watched Bill Nighy for two hours, wishing he was onstage when he wasn’t because that was the only time the play had any kind of life. He generated laughs from a fairly mundane script and even from a single look at times – he is a very talented actor and it was a privilege to watch him in action.
After the play had dragged to a close I clapped politely and then headed to the stage door. I was so intent on getting there that I didn’t utter two words to my Mum, but when we arrived we took one look at eachother and burst out laughing. What the hell had we just put ourselves through?! At least I was safe in the knowledge that it was over, and now I’d get to meet Bill Nighy as so many others had done before me. Ten minutes passed. Twenty. Thirty. By fifty minutes the crowd were starting to get a bit edgy, but I wasn’t worried. He always came out, everybody said so. I’d seen the pictures myself! Then a lovely man named Stephen from the Wyndham’s Theatre came out of the stage door. “Unfortunately Mr. Nighy and Ms. Mulligan have exited the theatre via the front door and will not be coming to the stage door tonight.”
I’m not going to lie, I felt like somebody had slapped me. To my acute embarrassment I felt my bottom lip begin to quiver and, without a word to anyone, I ran away from the crowd as quickly as possible before bursting into tears just around the corner from the theatre. I know I shouldn’t have got my hopes up and he’s only human and needed to rest etc etc, but what am I, a duck? I had to be in work for 6am the next day, I’d paid well over £100 to attend a show I didn’t even like and at the end of it? Nothing. Oh, and my make-up was ruined. All in all, a bitterly disappointing night.
Oh, and if you’ve seen Skylight and loved it and got to meet Bill Nighy and everything was wonderful – I don’t need to know. That’s like saying to someone “aww, your kitten died? I love playing with mine we have so much fun!”