Closer, Churchill Theatre, Review

Submitted by Alex Eades on Sun, 9 May '10 9.43am
Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group
David Grimes (Director), Patrick Marber (Writer)
Alice (Hilary Paterson), Dan (Andrew McKay), Larry (Johnathan McGarrity), Anna (Rhiannon King)
Running time

If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking.

Closer is not a cheery, feel-good love story. Anything but. The first thing that pops into my head when thinking about this rather depressing story is The Blower’s Daughter, by the Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice.

It was, if you recall, the song that was used in the trailer of the movie Closer back in 2005.

But there’s more to it than that. The whole story plays out like a Damien Rice album. There’s something raw, searching and quietly destructive about it. It is stripped of fantasy and parades the often tragic truth of the human heart. As Lenny says within the play “Have you ever seen a human heart? It’s a fist wrapped in blood”.

The play focuses on four Londoners and the relationships that they have with each other over a period of many years. They fall in love and fall apart. They search for love and happiness, dancing around each other creating a whirlwind of pain that damages everything in and around it.

Closer is a play that, done well, should cause you to look within yourself and examine your own soul. The beautifully crafted dialogue demands your attention and paints a brutally honest picture of the human condition.

Tonight’s production, whilst good in patches, doesn’t entirely succeed in delivering that emotional punch. This is mainly down to some inconsistent performances by the cast. Photographer Anna occasionally came across as being incredibly dull and empty, displaying very little personality at all. She was just a blank canvas.  How she got two guys to fall in love with her is a mystery to me. Perhaps that was because one of those men, Dan, was very similar in that respect, displaying as much charm as a rotten potato. Very rarely did either of these performances captivate the audience.

On the plus side, Larry was fantastic. The performance was energised, powerful and, at times, he carried the play single handedly. But when he leaves things begin to flop and the play just hiccups along like a drunk baby. It can be entertaining, but has no serious focus.

The set looks fine and the music included is frequently a welcomed relief, but the play simply needs more than that. The play is the soul of the production and it needs love and direction. Tonight, like the characters within it, this soul was lost.

 Show ran 5 – 8 May, 7:30pm