By Patrick Marber
Produced by AstonRep Theatre Company
At the BoHo Theatre
Post break-up sex to help you forget your ex – The Vaccines
People are shit. That is an easy take-away from Patrick Marber’s Olivier award-winning play, Closer, about the imperfection of human relationships and the destructive search for Truth. Four people – Dan, Larry, Alice, and Anna – set about casually destroying each others’ lives through love, lust, selfishness, and betrayal. In fact, comparisons to Pinter’s Betrayal are ever at-hand: affairs and misanthropy abound.
At the heart of the play are four indelibly interesting characters: Dan (Ray Kasper) is an obituary columnist and an eventually failed writer who voraciously pursues truth; and yet he is the least true amongst the group. He is a polyandrous romantic who writes passionately but totally derivatively. Aja Wiltshire, in her Chicago stage debut, plays Alice, his lover, a bright young thing who has a fraught relationship with the truth and a question mark-shaped scar on her leg. She is much younger than any of the people she interacts with. Larry (Robert Tobin) is a left-wing surgeon, from a working-class background and a bit of a dullard, but is also very caring; Anna (Amy Kasper) is a photographer who is fascinated by strangers and delights in using them as her subjects. And everyone is sleeping together. Well, almost – we remain firmly planted in the heterosexual realm.
Tobin is excellent as the slighted Larry, who step-by-step takes Dan apart; Kasper’s Dan is perhaps slightly over-effete, but is still good throughout, particularly in the closing scene. Amy Kasper’s Anna is sympathetic, the strain between her two lovers palpable. And Wiltshire’s debut is promising, with only the caveat that her Alice could perhaps be more confident, sexually: she is a stripper, after all. I suspect this lack of confidence is only the actress’ newness to the scene, which will ease in time, especially as she has no reason for it.
AstonRep does an admiral job with this excellent play. All of the actors are strong, the sets properly minimalistic, the soundscape studied. The problems of this production are minor: the actors sound like they’re all from the same rather upper-crust London neighborhood, which obfuscates to the inherent class-conflicts in the script between Larry and Dan, Alice and Anna (although Larry occasionally sounds lower-class, and they all slip a few American r’s in); tighter lighting and sound cues, as well as wheels for the heavier objects on stage, would trim the rough edges in scene changes, which the production will probably shed in time. And most importantly, the actors on stage really let the source material shine through. Closer makes for agreeable and affordable evening.
Date Reviewed: February 12, 2011
For full show information, check out the Closer page at Theatre In Chicago.
At Boho Theatre at Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago, IL; call 773-828-9129 or visit www.astonrep.com; tickets $15, $12 student/senior; Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm; running time 2 hours, with intermission; through March 5th.