Sex and truth on an intimate stage
Sophisticated, carnal Londoners muck up love at Off The Wall Theatre.
Off the Wall Theatre’s intimate space perfectly fits Closer, Patrick Marber’s steamy play about sex, lust, love and relationships among four Londoners.
Closer begins with the initial meeting of Alice (Liz Mistele) and Dan (Ryan Johnson). She’s been hit by a car; Dan delivers this distressed damsel to the hospital. Her injury is not that serious; they converse and begin to establish a relationship. A doctor, Larry (Jeremy C. Welter), examines her briefly and notices a peculiar scar on her leg apart from the other scrapes and blood from the car accident.
A year passes. Anna (Jocelyn Ridgley) photographs Dan and Alice — now an established couple — for publicity for Dan’s new book, The Aquarium. Alice, and her past as a stripper, is the subject of Dan’s novel. Anna suggests to Alice that Dan is “stealing her life” by making her a character in a book. Alice throws the same issue back at the photographer. She replies that she merely “borrows” the images of her photographic subjects.
Jump to Larry and Dan, connected in an obscenely dirty internet chat, in which Dan deceives Larry as he pretends to be Anna. Dan doesn’t know it now, but he is playing cupid to set up Anna and Larry, who meet by coincidence and hit it off. Further complications: Dan has fallen for Anna and yearns to leave Alice for her; and Larry believes that Alice is sad and still looking for love and happiness.
Of course this unstable situation cannot hold. As the couples interact, the truth comes out. Alice returns to her occupation as a stripper. Dan, believing himself to be a failed novelist, returns to his old job writing obituaries again for a newspaper. Anna and Larry’s marriage falls apart. They pursue Dan and Alice for sex and acceptance.
As the second act progresses, Larry demands one last sexual favor from Anna before they sign divorce papers. She agrees. She also tells Dan that their relationship meant nothing to her. Dan’s confusion causes him to confront Larry at Larry’s office. Larry tells him to go back to Alice because she loves him still.
Dan and Alice find each other again, with Larry’s help. The relationship seems playful and stable, until suddenly Alice’s mood changes to hate. The scene ends brutally.
But in the end, everyone tries to tell the truths they’ve hidden for years. Those truths finally break the bonds among these four characters. Alice is alone as the play ends; even the all-purpose benches and chairs are cleared from the stage.
Mistele, Johnson, Welter and Ridgley maintain high energy and tension throughout the play and deliver its strong emotions of desire and desperation with conviction.
Closer runs February 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, & 17 at Off the Wall, with Thursday – Saturday times at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday times at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $26 for reserved seating and $23 for general seating.