Closer (Donmar, Saturday 21st March)

When I visit the Donmar, I usually get a little grumpy. I’m reminded though I got through on-line in priority booking, and  I’m stuck out at the back, and down the side. Today, I was in C37 which is stage right.

When the audience enters the space, they are confronted with a black box set and at the centre is a white bed which is lit by a bright white light. The actors immediately come on stage, cross the stage, and rearrange the set.  This becomes a metaphor for the complicated relationships between two couples that shift and change during the play.

I was thinking at the interval that this was what Deposit might have been. Yes, at times the dialogue bashed me over the head, and some of the portrayals of the female characters was uncomfortable, but what Closer did that Deposit didn’t was to spend some time on building character and context.

As relationships unfold and tangle, scenes overlap. At times, time frames were overlaid such as the moment when Anna (Nancy Carroll) slept with Larry (Rufus Sewall) to get him to sign the divorce papers.

The use of graphics as the on-line dating, the photograph exhibition and aquarium are superb, and totally effective in setting the scene, but not overpowering.

The acting is excellent. Nancy Carroll, as Anna,  really makes you believe in her character by subtly playing the emotion.  Rufus Sewell is extremely good looking, and yet through drink and dialogue his character, Larry, becomes grotesquely ugly.

The play explores  invented and borrowed lives. Lives are invented on-line and in books. Characters borrow each other’s lives and forget such as seeing the mouth of the Fleet from Blackfriars Bridge. Like the river the memories are hidden and reemerge. Is Alice really Alice or Jane?

C37 turned out to be a good seat. This was down to the solid blocking and staging, and my view was great throughout.

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