Submitted by Anonymous on Thursday, 10th Feb 2011
Date of Show:Friday, 4th February 2011 (All day)
Closer is a well-known piece that intends to 'get under the audience’s skin.' The story focuses on the lives of four people: Dan, Alice, Anna, and Larry who meet in a series of random events. As the play unfolds, we witness the unlikable acts of the quartet, who continue to strike out in the name of lust and hurt the ones they profess to love so dearly.
There were two big challenges with this production. The first was the lack of cohesion in the overall design. The second was the lack of credibility at key moments - while promising a gritty ‘edge,’ the lust and anger just didn’t come across as believable when it needed to.
The production design by cast members Tania Knight and Michael Fenemore-Cocks was simple but felt disjointed. The design of the space stayed true to Marber’s original intent, with a basic and uncomplicated layout. The lighting by Adam Woodend was limited and didn’t seem to shape the space as effectively as it could have. Several scenes were poorly lit.
The use of the large screen to project images worked well at times – the exhibition at the gallery was quite striking, and the online sex chat fiasco between Dan and Larry was really effective. However, other images to denote locations were largely unnecessary.
The sound by Shawn Klueh and Liam Merrick was clumsy on the night, making it very distracting. Changes were not on cue and music levels drowned out the dialogue on stage. The choice of music to underpin the story and support scene changes was very eclectic, but again felt disjointed.
Jasper Bagg’s direction ensured an energetic performance from his cast. His choice to keep the play set in London but have his cast speak with thick Australian accents was an intriguing decision. In the end, it meant that much of the humour of the text was lost in the delivery and some of the natural class-based tension between Dan and Larry was totally lost, which also contributed to the disjointed nature of the production.
The play is an incredible challenge for any actor, and the production provided a great showcase for four emerging artists. The standout performance was from Michael Fenemore-Cocks, who willingly embraced the true nature of Larry. He managed to make the audience feel comfortably uncomfortable spanning the range of Larry’s emotions, from his light-hearted witty banter through to his violent aggression.
Johnny McNamara had some nice moments as Dan, but his portrayal tended to focus on the more likable aspects of the character. I would’ve liked to see him embrace the darker elements a little more. Kendal Rae threw herself into the role of Alice and although she started slowly, she managed to capture much of the grit and pain effectively. Tania Knight attempted a dry and droll portrayal of Anna, but unfortunately it came across as flat and disengaging. It was particularly disappointing given the bounty of great dialogue that she had to work with.
Avid have produced a take on Marber’s play that has moments of the promised edginess and darkness, but a lack of cohesion in the production leave the audience feeling confused rather than confronted.
Catherine has worked for a range of companies for the last 15 years. She is a founding member of Leo9 Productions, and has produced, directed and performed in a range of plays since the company began in 2001. She is also a writer and singer, having spent the last few years performing and touring with a cappella quartet Swingin’ Miss.