Paris Hat Productions ” Closer

By Simbo. Closer (and Sexual Perversity in Chicago) at The Street Theatre. Continues till 8th December.

First of all apologies ” this should be a review of both halves of the double bill with “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”. However, due to me not reading my e-mail until 7:35 on the night I was meant to be going, I missed the first half. Will do better next time, promise.

Fortunately, I do know the play, so I can at least describe it to you ” it”s about a guy and a girl pursuing a romantic relationship, and the pitfalls it hits as they face their disapproving friends, given a distinctive David Mamet spin ” the men in particular have misogynistic arias of foul-mouthed brilliance. I can”t tell you how well this particular production worked, but I can say that I”ve seen some of the cast in previous productions, and if their form holds true, this should be worth a look.

Anyway, onto the play I did see ” Patrick Marber”s “Closer”. Another twisted story of love, sex and the damage we can do to each other in the name of them, Closer follows the story of four people in late 90″s London, as they variously attempt to establish sexual relationships with one another, then dodge the fallout these relationships cause. It”s dark, bitter, yet tremendously funny stuff (with a different, and better, ending to the movie version). Or at least, the script is.

Unfortuantely, this production doesn”t quite take flight except in occasional moments. Perhaps revealingly, it”s the internet-chatboard scene (where the dialogue between two characters shows up in front of the audience as they type their messages back and forth) which comes across best ” where the distance between text and audience is, essentially, removed.

Elsewhere, it”s rather frustrating. Of the four members of the cast, only Naomi Milthorpe as Anna consistently gets across a sense of a fully-breathing, lived-in character. Sam Lavery”s Larry works well when he”s allowed to bust loose in full fury (particularly in the argument at the end of act one), but elsewhere is perhaps not sufficiently as toadish as he should be.

Ben Williams presents the emotionally reticent Daniel as emotionally non-existent all too often. And Jess Brent”s Alice suffers a double-blow ” missing both the fragility and vulnerability of the character, and also the abrasiveness of her defences when they appear. She is mildly hampered, though, as the cast are very obviously all roughly the same age – Alice needs to be at least a decade and a half younger than the rest of the cast.

It”s a disappointment when a play that”s essentially about passion is given such a dispassionate production. Erin Pugh”s set is occasionally quite stylish, and adjusts well to the various scenic requirements, but, perhaps because it”s doing double-duty with the other half of the double-bill, it doesn”t really get much beyond generic background.

So is this worth seeing? Maybe, if you”ve never read or seen the play before, or if you”ve only seen the film. But for lovers of Marber”s play (as I consider myself), it”s got to be called a disappointment.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Simbo did audition for roles in both “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and “Closer”, and didn”t get cast.

2 Responses to “Paris Hat Productions ” Closer”

  1. Gaddamit,

    Mamet is the business isn’t he??

  2. Yeah, big fan at this end. Frankly, kinda happy when I auditioned just to have read some of his stuff out loud – it’s incredibly fun to act. Well, at least it is for the boys…