Coco Nakase ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Stage Editor
I first read Closer, written by Patrick Marber, this last spring break in a cottage by the bay of Galway, Ireland. I was visiting my sister, whose opinion on theatre I respect more than anyone else, and during my stay at her seaside home, I asked for recommendations for plays to read. Without missing a beat, she went to her bookshelf and popped off a small stack of plays, including Closer. When she handed me the play, she told me it would change the way I look at love. She was right.
So, naturally, I was thrilled to hear that Bad Habit Productions would be bringing this brilliant play to life so close by. For those not familiar with the plot, Closer revolves around four strangers, brought together by chance, kept together by love and lust and torn apart by emotional corruption and betrayal. It’s a tough pill to swallow at times and it can take a bit of time to wrap your head around it completely, but the way Marber looks at love is extremely contemporary, almost revolutionarily so, and is unlike any other portrayal of love and relationships I’ve seen in theatre.
The performance space is best described as intimate. It’s small, although not claustrophobically so, and the set is simple, utilizing a projector to denote setting and scene changes. The set won’t leave you breathless, but for this piece, it is appropriately minimalistic and allows the audience to focus on the performance of the actors, which is critical for such a personal show.
With such heavy and nuanced material, the casting and acting of the show has to be done particularly well. In this aspect, the director, Susanna Harris Noon, and Bad Habit both succeed and fail. Crystal Lisbon and Brook Reeves give outstanding performances as Anna and Larry, respectively. Never did their lines or arc of emotions feel artificial and their English accents did not slip. Every scene with one or both of these actors was filled with believable tension and was riveting to watch. These two actors made the show for me. On the flip side, the actors playing Alice and Dan (Angela Keefe and Glen Moore) were less than stellar, although not horrible. Keefe, an Emerson student, had a weak first act, but did significantly improve during the second. However, her accent was, to say the least, distracting, something between a generic British accent and cockney. Moore’s accent too was fairly poor, but this inconvenience was eclipsed by his disappointing performance. Dan’s character is arguably the hardest to pull off sympathetically, as he is often the instigator of much of the drama and can easily be seen as a (excuse my language) whiney bastard. I believe both Moore and Noon share the blame for the two-dimensional performance of Dan, as so much could have been done in the emotional expression and pauses to show how truly conflicted Dan is and make him so much more sympathetic.
Despite these setbacks, Closer is a production you want to see. The writing is truly exceptional, and I can stress how great Lisbon and Reeves’ performances were. So catch it in its last weekend; I can almost promise you, it will change the way you look at love forever.
Performances run now through April 28th at Boston Center for the Arts, Deane Hall.