Thursday 23rd April to Saturday 25th April and Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May 2009
Directed by Andrew Caple
"Love and sex are like politics: it's not what you say that matters, still less what you mean, but what you do."
Set in 90's contemporary London, 'Closer' takes a cynical and painfully accurate look at relationships. Both romantic comedy and brutal analysis of modern love, it is a play about the kindness of strangers and the cruelty of desire. Don't miss an opportunity to see the original stage play of the award winning film - one of the best plays of the 1990s.
'Closer' was first performed in 1997 at the National Theatre and won the 1997 Evening Standard Best Comedy Award and the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. It also ran for 172 performances on Broadway during 1999, when it won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Foreign Play and was nominated for both Tony and Drama Desk awards.
The play is an intricate focus on the politics of four people trading partners for lust which follows the lives of the characters over a period of approximately six and a half years as they meet, bond, separate and move on. The play begins when Dan Woolf takes Alice to the hospital after she has been hit by a taxi where, co-incidentally, she is treated by a doctor - Larry. 18 months later, Dan is in a relationship with Alice and publishes a book based on her past life as a stripper, but he falls in love with Anna, a photographer taking his publicity shots.
Six months later, Dan and Larry meet in an adult internet chat room where Dan impersonates Anna and arranges for Larry to supposedly meet her the next day. When she actually turns up misunderstandings abound but she and Larry begin a relationship which leads to marriage. 18 months later later both Larry and Dan split up with their respective partners (Anna and Alice) and a few months after that, Larry meets Alice in a strip club - beginning a brief liaison with her. Nearly a year later after Alice's death, they find out that her name and persona was assumed and nearly everything she has told them about herself is a lie.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. Alice Corrigan was Runner-up as 'Best Amateur Actress' for her portrayal of Anna in the The News 'Guide' Awards 2009.
On two of the nights following performances of 'Closer', two charity performances of 'Seven Jewish Children' were staged as a charity fringe performance. No charge was made for the audience, but a collection was made after each performance in aid of the refugees of Gaza.
|Dan - a man from the suburbs||Martin McBride|
|Larry - a man from the city||Nathan Chapman|
|Alice - a girl from the town||Charley Callaway|
|Anna - a woman from the country||Alice Corrigan|
|Stage Manager||Claire Lyne|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Melanie Cole|
|Lighting Design||Andrew Caple|
|Lighting Operation||Jeff Bone|
|Sound Design||Sarah Parnell|
|Sound Operation||Callum West |
|Projector Operation||Callum West |
|Projection Typist||Gina Farmer|
|Production Design||David Penrose|
|Production Photography||David Penrose|
|Portrait of Alice||Dan Finch|
|Rehearsal Photography||Dan Finch|
|Poster and Flier Design||Pete Woodward|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Projection Typist||Gina Farmer|
|Front of House Manager||Gina Farmer |
May 1997: I had gone up to London for a job interview in an office opposite the National Theatre. After an unmemorable morning I emerged with the intention of returning to Havant. Ahead of me, outside the Cottesloe, was a queue. I joined it. It turned out to be the Returns Queue for a new play, just opened that week. I got the last ticket and sat at the back. After a two and half hour roller-coaster I walk out, saying to myself 'I have to direct that play'.
April 2009: 12 years on I find I have my opportunity as the 1990s segment of the Bench Theatre 40th Anniversary season. So what is it that appealed? Simply - it's a play that works on so many different levels.
It is a director's play - the structure, the themes, the imagery and use of language provide a rich vein for both director and actors to mine. There is the opportunity to create four real characters with great emotional depth, particularly satisfying when you have actors of such high calibre to work with. And it has a wonderful script - exquisitely written, sometimes comic, often savage.
However, as importantly, it's a play that also strikes home at a personal level. The emotions, though extreme, are real & recognisable. Below the smart, cynical and blackly comic surface lies a drama that is both raw and human - you can empathise with the characters because you've been there too. Reflecting 'modern love' the balance of power continually shifts as, like Newton's Cradle, reaction follows unwanted, yet predictable, reaction.
It's not a play you can sit on the fence about - and I'm sure it will be vigorously discussed in the bar afterwards. In the meantime, sit back and 'enjoy' the ride.
And, in case you are wondering, I didn't get the job...
Does the character Anna really have all the best lines in Patrick Marber's play, or is it just that actor Alice Corrigan makes it seem so? Either way, she gives the finest performance I have seen from her, delivering her tartly comic put-downs with precision timing and inflection and often the most serene of smiles. And crucially she also has a quality of stillness that is a more virtuoso display in portraying the painful vulnerability of all the play's four characters.
Closer has been chosen by Bench Theatre as its 'state of he nation' choice for the 1990s in its 40th anniversary season. It deals in explicit terms with humanity's bodily and emotional needs, with matters of insecurity, jealousy and possessiveness, and with the lies we tell ourselves.
All the other three actors generally do a good job. Martin McBride catches both the uptight and the mischievous qualities in Dan; Charley Callaway is an engagingly minx-like Alice although not as painfully fragile as she should be; and Nathan Chapman even gives the unlikeable Larry a degree of charm. Yet ultimately only Ms Corrigan makes me really care what happens to her character.
The play's title is neatly reflected in the slides that announce every scene, portraying first the general location before moving in ever-closer, but the idea is over-played. A slicker, more fluid approach to scene changes would give Andrew Caple's production more pace. Until May 2.
The News, April 2009
Bench Theatre's 40th anniversary 'State of the Nation' season continues with a look at life in the 90's with Patrick Marber's play Closer, subsequently a successful film starring Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and Jude Law. This is a cynical look at complicated dishonest relationships involving two couples.
A young erotic dancer Alice is knocked down in the street and the obituary writer Dan, accompanies her to the hospital. She decides to love him but 12 months later Dan is attracted to an accomplished divorcee photographer - Anna. The randy dermatologist Larry, enters the scene (through a very entertaining session in a chatroom!) and he too falls for Anna. The play is set over an extended period as they continue to collide in chance meetings, yet despite Larry and Anna's marriage, the carnal attractions between the two couples continues. The needy Alice returns to her stripping and encounters Larry - and for a while they are together. The dialogue is raw, shocking and explicit with the incessant emotional fallout, along with all the lies, pain, deceit and recriminations they throw at each other. Ultimately the women seem the stronger but while Anna returns to Larry, the devastated Dan is left alone.
Director Andrew Caple, with a long-held ambition to direct the play, has triumphed with a brilliant production. Cleverly accommodating a dozen different venues using relevant images projected onto a large screen, and a minimum of props, his chosen players have done him justice. The foursome were superb in their very challenging complex emotionally charged roles. Martin McBride (Dan) gave a great performance as the reserved selfish frustrated writer initially so attracted to the young Alice and yet unable to control his desire for the more mature Anna. His scene in 'sexual cyberspace' with Nathan Chapman (Larry) was brilliant. Alice Corrigan (Anna) gave real depth to her portrayal of the photographer showing composure, control and strength as her emotions were laid bare. Nathan's performance got stronger throughout as he swung from desire, anger, jealousy, revenge to the characteristic 'Alpha male'. The stunning Charley Callaway (Alice) gave a very skillful sparkling characterisation of the young alluring waif, incorporating her fragility, sexuality, resilience and disappointment.
This talented company can be guaranteed to give a first class show and this powerful gritty hard hitting piece is no exception - comes highly recommended.
remotegoat, 25th April 2009