Two couples trapped in a melee of sex, greed, despair and lies.
Sex is fun. And infidelity promises speedy arousal! Being cuckolded, on the other hand, means the fast lane to despair and to realising that, when it comes to mutual incomprehension, men and women are both poor suckers… a modern match of highly polished, no holds barred, ping-pong dialogue, coupled with scenes acted with breathtaking intensity. Tony best-play nominated Broadway hit, „Closer“, by Patrick Marber, was first performed in London in 1997; the play was filmed in 2004 by Mike Nichols starring, amongst others, Julia Roberts and Jude Law.
In this production, directed with fast pace by Emma Lucia Hands for Vienna’s English Theatre, „Closer“ is a boulevard confusion of affairs between two couples locked in an ego-dominated world of modern media and internet-chats („London Fucking“). We encounter Amanda Victoria Vilanova as the naive, lascivious stripper, Alice and Claire Cordier als photographer, Anna, alongside Daniel Llewelyn-Williams as the narcissistic, cynical doctor, Larry, together with Michael Edwards as the disadvantaged author and obituary-writer, Dan; they all display terrific stage-presence in this maelstrom of sex, greed, despair and lies. This is a progression of mutual cheating on one another and desire, separation and coming together again, not to mention the obsessive, absurd question as to the reason for all this – in other words the truth; all four act their parts in a real-to-life, expressive manner and, above all, with truly drastic dialogues which are not for the faint-hearted. Mercilessly, they lay bare a love devoid of romance, as a relentless battle and trial of strength of mutual attraction and rejection.
How proximity can lead to distance
There are plays whose characters will never be appealing in any way, yet for whom we nevertheless are able to feel some sort of compassion, because they are, quite obviously, hopelessly trapped in their ways. There are also plays which return to the stage quite some time after having been filmed successfully; both criteria apply to Patrick Marber’s 1997 play, „Closer“ which rocketed the author to fame. This selfsame play, which is anything but prudish, is now being performed for the more conservative audiences of Vienna’s English Theatre. (…) The play’s quality lies not only in still reflecting the zeitgeist – take, for instance, the salacious internet chat, not to mention the nightclub scene; no, it also addresses timeless issues, such as greed, jealousy, infidelity and vengeance. The closer the characters come towards one another, the more they seem, at the same time, to draw apart.
Director Emma Lucia Hands presents us „Closer“ in less strident guise than might have been the case; her version is relatively understated; nevertheless, non-native speakers will find it tough going to keep up with the tempo and the vocabulary of the dialogues. All four characters, Amanda Victoria Vilanova (Alice), Michael Edwards (Dan), Daniel Llewelyn-Williams (Larry) and Claire Cordier (Anna), are played with well-matched, high quality.