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For a play that consists of four rather unlikable and self-absorbed characters, Closer does a great job at entertaining its audience. As the tag line promises, they get each other off and screw each other over. What is intriguing about Closer is that there is no filler in between.
Closer is structured around the characters meeting and breaking up, giving little else away. This intentional distancing effect, without an easily graspable flow of time, prevents any way of becoming emotionally invested in the characters.
Written in 1997 by Patrick Marber, Closer has won a bunch of awards, including the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Play, and has had successful runs on both Broadway and the West End. It explores ideas of lust, jealousy, art, artists, and the construction of a fictional self.
Love is more a force of destruction in the play rather than a happy attainment and sex, rather, is the binding force. The start is saturated with sexual humour that appeals to those smutty minded folk in the crowd. Apparently, men want a girl who comes like a train, but with elegance. These moments of comic brilliance got the play off to a good start. However, after this initial delight, the play seemed to fizzle out in the first half into a dry exposition. The second half on the whole was more engaging and entertaining.
The characters, for all their personality flaws, were quite intriguing, as they ranged from lovably awkward and almost likeable to arrogant and painfully clichéd. The actors, for the most part, were adept at portraying these progressions. Some of the British accents faltered at times, but on the whole it did not detract from the performance. Perhaps less pacing and flatter shoes would be more fitting to the required intensity of some moments.
I feel that the new Whitireia theatre was a dwarfing space for such an intimate play. However, the wide stage did lend itself well to the subway-inspired set and the deliberately distancing nature of the play. Lighting was nicely understated and the multimedia in the internet scene in particular proved effective. As Closer is dialogue-heavy, the use of swively office chairs helped break up the potential for static conversations and added a bit of movement to the performances.
By Patrick Marber
22 June – 1 July