I haven’t been to the Donmar much lately – it seems like I get shut out of most of the shows they do these days and have been ever since they raised the bar for being a “friend” and switched to the £10 Monday scheme. But somehow I managed to get a ticket to Closer – two, even – which I snatched up without even bothering to find out what the show was about.
So. There are two men and two women. They meet initially by chance – Dan takes Alice to a hospital where Larry works – but chemistry (and, seemingly, fate) conspire to see them dating. Dan initially seems wonderful – a thoughtful, kind man who doesn’t want to abandon the waif hit by a car – while Alice seems hard: manipulative, deceitful, a user who’s lived life hard and takes whatever she can stuff in her grabby hands, happy to use her looks to even out the poor deal life gave her. She makes a play for Dan – and suddenly he’s going from boring sub editor to Mr Throw Caution to the Wind. What? I found it hard to believe he’d risk losing his job for a shag, and even harder to believe he’d throw over his girlfriend for someone he’s just caught stealing from him. It just didn’t make sense.
We fast forward to a few years, and Dan is getting a photo taken for the novel he’s just written that fictionalizes Alice’s life. He’s been with her for a few years now, and yet suddenly he’s making a pass at the photographer Anna and telling her she’s the love of his life. At this point I gave up hope for this play. People aren’t constantly changing who they are based on random sexual impulses: if this were the case, you’d see people going Jekyll/Hyde/Jekyll/Hyde as they walk down the street. I feel the intrigues that developed between the characters – some due to the men’s inability to handle jealousy in any sort of mature fashion, others due to the women’s brutal pragmatism – generally held water, and there were some nice speeches about sexuality, relationships, and the workings of the human mind that might stand up over time. But this play felt entirely pasted together by someone who seemed to have ideas and situations that they wanted to make scenes out of rather than written by someone who actually understands people. For that, I’d say go see My Night With Reg, which said more with a few minutes of silence than this play did with all of its high energy dialogue. Really, Closer is entirely a waste of time and a talented cast, and I’m pretty sure it’ll die a death soon enough and join the piles of scripts that were forgotten by history as not worth the effort to produce again, once people get past their obsession with internet chat rooms and what happens when you go backstage at a strip club.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, March 5, 2015. It continues through April 4th.)