Closer is a play about four individuals who form different sets of couples. Set in 1990s London, it is a tale of lust, love, deception and betrayal that at times is disturbing in its portrayal of what people can do to each other but is also simultaneously a reminder that others may be struggling with their own private battles. If you recognise the name, the play has also been made into a feature film starring Natalie Portman.
Although the first scene was slightly drawn out and the play took a little time to warm up, by the interval the characters were well established and the audience were well-invested in their lives. As we find out, the four characters are an aspiring writer, former stripper, doctor and photographer, and some of the most convincing scenes of the play, and set, occur in the workplace.
”An online Tinder-esque mock up drew raucous laughter from the audience, with barely a few words needing to be uttered by the actors’’
The electronic backdrop was extremely well utilised, both to transition between scenes and to play an integral part in them. An online Tinder-esque mock up drew raucous laughter from the audience, with barely a few words needing to be uttered by the actors, letting the text speak behind them speak for itself. Those offended by crude language may, however, wish to look away at this point (and will have to cover their ears multiple times during the rest of the play). The time lapses of Nottingham, New York and London were impressive and added a professionalism to the piece. Set-design and lighting were also used well to portray changes in time and space, especially during a split-stage sequence in which a big reveal happens simultaneously in two halves of the stage.
”The actors were at their best during the argument scenes, which were all exceptionally well-acted, bringing the first half to a dramatic crescendo and peppering the second half’’
Described as a modern tragedy, Closer draws a lot of laughs and gasps, with the play working best when humour was followed by drama. The actors were at their best during the argument scenes, which were all exceptionally well-acted, bringing the first half to a dramatic crescendo and peppering the second half. Both Louis Djalili (Dan) and Jamie Watt (Larry) made the audience jump in their seats while Jess Lundholm (Alice) and Libby Boyd (Anna) managed to win their characters empathy even in difficult circumstances. These scenes drew an emotional reaction from the audience and exemplified how passion is a central theme of the play. As the director, Max Miller, said in the programme, ‘don’t hurt the people you love, it can get rather messy’.
With the story taking place over a number of years, the emotional toll on each character heightened as time went on, yet some of their actions still remained a mystery. The manipulation and subsequent guilt or otherwise was portrayed with genuine feeling and each actor’s dedication to the performance was well received by the audience, who were clearly moved (or distressed by the characters’ actions) when the curtain went up.
7/10 – Great show but room for improvement
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Image courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre
‘Closer’ is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday the 12th of November. For more information and where to find tickets see here.