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A CurtainUp Review
Closer has been around the block a few times. It opened in London in '97 where it ran in three theaters, then it moved to New York (CurtainUp Review). Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Play and the NY Drama Critics' Outer Circle Award, it initially was directed by the playwright, Patrick Marber. On the Arden's Arcadia Stage, the Philadelphia premiere is ably directed by Aaron Posner. It is a quirky, well-written play, employing an abundance of risque language. There was tittering in the ladies room at intermission. This is Philadelphia, after all, but I think we're more sophisticated than this little sign of discomfort indicates! Often the play is laugh-out-loud funny and the jam-packed opening night house roared.
Well paced, overlapping, sometimes played in tandem, vignettes tell the story about love - falling in and out - guilt, sex, leaving, hating to leave, loving someone else, lying, falling apart, going back, lying, looking for truth. It's funny, but rough. Not just the "bad " language is rough; it's in the way the characters use their words to get at each other, tromp on feelings and berate, flagellate, and assault each other with questions about love and sex. They are looking to separate truth from lies. Most of all they are trying to achieve intimacy through aggressive and provocative talk, for it seems impossible to reach it through sex.
The search carries the characters through twisted pairings and infidelities. The doctor, Larry (very believably played by Patrick Brinker) searches for intimacy in strip clubs. Anna, the photographer (the Natasha Richardson role in NY, and in Phila, very appealingly played by Susan Riley Stevens) searches for intimacy through her portraiture of strangers. Dan (played in NY by Rupert Graves and in Phila by the talented Peter Pryor, also of Exit Wounds fame) goes on the internet, fixes up others, follows his heart, or maybe an organ located somewhat south. Alice, the strange young thing (played over the top - but it is an over the top role - by Michele Federer), searches for intimacy with her lover, who is searching elsewhere. But she also wants non-intimacy, does not want to be known.
The play flirts with soft porn a couple of times, but Marber has a light touch with heavy content, and Posner, the director has the material well in hand. The play also flirts with death - sex and death, two sure-fire selling points. There's the obit writer, and the set background is of a memorial park with cenotaphs. Overall, it sounds similar to the sets in London and NY productions. Music ranges from Shaft to the Beatles.
It's a long, fun, but tough evening.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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