by Patrick Marber.
Donmar Warehouse 41 Earlham Street WC2H 9LX To 4 April 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm .
Audio-described 4 Apr 4 2.30pm (+ Touch Tour 1.30pm).
Captioned 30 Mar.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7624 (£2.50 transaction fee).
Review: Carole Woddis 6 February.
Historical and prescient – a heady mix.
It seems no time at all since Patrick Marber took the lid off human relationships with Closer. 1997 – almost twenty years ago, when, with Dealer’s Choice, then this play, Marber was firing on all cylinders. Closer, you could argue, was the sparkiest of them all.
One of the first plays to put internet dating on stage in a funny, dirty exchange between two men, one posing as a woman, it brought the theatrical presentation of 20th century sexual relations bang up to date.
Seeing it again in David Leveaux’s Donmar revival – and by coincidence fascinatingly close to Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, which takes us even further down the road of cybersex and internet persona swopping – Closer still seems prescient and pertinent.
The first half bubbles with sexual tension as two couples accidentally collide as strangers, become lovers, swap partners acrimoniously then return to each other, only to part again.
Somehow, amongst all the emotional mayhem and fallout, Marber manages to make these lubricious close encounters funny as well as sexy, thanks in large measure to the iridescent chameleon that is Nancy Carroll, who, as Anna, can spin emotions on a sixpence.
Sadly Leveaux’s production doesn’t always enhance Marber’s quick-fire dialogue with a staging that often leaves parts of the audience in frustration. Nor can the soulful eyes of Rufus Sewell entirely make up for a muted vocal delivery.
But Oliver Chris as a shambling journalist (working he tells us "in the Siberia of journalism, obituaries") and Rachel Redford as Alice, the sometime stripper, and ultimately, you come to think, the `victim’ of the piece, provide plenty of substance. Nancy Carroll who, as Anna, a photographer, can spin emotions on a sixpence.
Despite the production’s shortcomings, such is Marber’s acuteness and brilliance in manoeuvring pieces around the dramatic chess-board that Closer emerges once again as a wonderfully crafted observation of the desperate human desire for love and the destructiveness of jealousy.
In the end, the play comes to seem more about selfishness and possession, with sex – for all its obsessive attraction – merely a stepping stone. As Sewell’s Larry, a dermatologist, succinctly puts it, "our flesh is ferocious. It will kill us."
Alice: Rachel Redford.
Dan: Oliver Chris.
Larry: Rufus Sewell.
Anna: Nancy Carroll.
Director: David Leveaux.
Designer: Bunny Christie.
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone.
Sound: Fergus O’Hare.
Composer: Corin Buckeridge.
Video: Finn Ross.
Movement: Wayne McGregor.
First performance of this production of Closer at Donmar Warehouse Theatre London 12 February 2015.