Brighton Fringe 2019
“Four lives intertwine over the course of four and a half years in this densely-plotted, stinging look at modern love and betrayal. Their lives are permanently altered when two of them have a passionate affair. We explore and delve into the brutal anatomy of modern romance, where a quartet of strangers meet, fall in love, and become caught up in a web of sexual desire and jealousy, often drawing out deep human isolation, vulnerability and destructiveness.” Directed by Lauren Varnfield from awad-winning Pretty Villain Productions,
Patrick Marber’s play Closer tells the story of four lovers and their intertwined relationships. It was made into a film but it works better as a play. It’s a great play, the dialogue is fast and easy, the characters well rounded and believable and it’s honest, sometimes brutal, about the mixed motivations that drive us to love.
Directed by Lauren Varnfield this is a confident and assured production that, with minimal staging and a lightness of touch in the direction shows the story and the dialogue at their best.
I saw this on the second night and the performance was already tight and professional and felt like it was bedded in, the performers knew what they were doing. There were no slips, nothing that broke the fourth wall and reminded us we were watching a play.
Lauren Varnfield made some good casting choices. The individual performances were spot on and reflected the maturity and experience of the actors. Jon Howlett set the emotional depth of the play straight out of the gate. His “Daniel” was intense and repressed, uncomfortable to watch for all the right reasons. Steve Chusak captured the superficial charm and profound violence of “Larry” handling the changes of tone easily, scaring us without ever going too far. As the youngest member of the cast, Caitlin Cameron had a lot to live up to, especially as her character “Alice” is the most opaque and enigmatic of the ensemble but she delivered a flippantly fragile performance that captured Alice’s neediness. “Anna” is perhaps the least developed of the plays’ characters but Lucy Laing gave a standout performance that was authentic, entirely believable and kept us watching her even in her silences.
The ensemble work was generally slick and effortless. There was occasionally a bit too much staring over the heads of the audience and the humour of the piece was sometimes lost in the early scenes but these are minor gripes.
Closer is challenging because it doesn’t shy away from the dark side of human relationships but if you can handle that then this is a show that I can highly recommend.