‘Closer’ by Patrick Marber is not an obvious choice for Market Harborough Drama Society to produce. Its risqué subject matter and explicit language will have a similar effect to Marmite, it will either be loved or hated.
I’m a Marmite lover!
The play follows a quartet of strangers in a sexual square dance, where relationships are made and broken as partners are caught between desire and betrayal.
This observation on relationships and human connection has been brought to the stage by director, Mark Bodicoat, with sensitivity. He has carefully guided the depths of each character, and as he states in the programme, we the audience ‘can empathise with the characters because we have been there too’.
This cast of four, all new to MHDS, are a must see and bring a strong performance. The trust that has been built between them is apparent and the complex relationships are portrayed with truth.
Eloise-May Rankin should be commended for her interpretation of the enigmatic Alice. Her vulnerability is tragically beautiful but masked with her independence. Watching her character arch was thought provoking. She craves human connection but does she ever truly get it? Nick Turrell handled the character of Larry with grace. His interpretation showed the character’s insecurities and how they can manifest themselves in anger and resentment.
Pip Nixon’s Dan felt authentic and grounded. The obituary writer is a romantic at heart, desires what he can’t have and then becomes fixated until he acquires it. Pip’s Dan was able to affect the audience with his pensive demeanour making us want to know more about him. Anna Buckley, gave a captivating, strong and honest portrayal of the photographer Anna. She was elegant, feminine and relate-able. I found myself conflicted as I wanted her to end up happy, but the question I kept asking myself was did she actually ‘deserve’ to be happy?
The set was a simple black box with four panels, each assigned to a character, and the many different locations we were transported to throughout the play were created with furniture. Although minimalist in set dressing the combination of lighting, furniture and levels worked really well. Scene changes could have been slicker and cleaner; however they were underscored with a trendy cool soundtrack that I could have happily listened to all night long.
The lighting was very effective, with the use of colours and particular effects that really enhanced the mood within each scene (at one point a gobo was used to create an aquarium which was really quite beautiful).
A clever projection of a conversation over the internet between two characters was a highlight of the technical aspect of the show. However, if you’re intrigued about the content of the conversation, you’ll have to wait until you’re in the audience.
The audience were focused and engaged, however I felt that due to the subject matter some of the comedy in the piece was under appreciated. There was some audible laughter during the second act, as the audience had relaxed into the setting.
This production has a huge opportunity to appeal to a younger generation of theatre goers in the Harborough and surrounding areas as well as present its loyal members with something a bit ‘different’.
It was a brave move by MHDS, and in my opinion it was excellently executed. Theatre should push boundaries, ask questions and be thought provoking as well as entertaining. This show succeeds and is a conversation starter…. I urge you to go and watch it while you still have the chance.
Closer runs at Harborough Theatre, Market Harborough until Sat 19 January 2019. Visit http://harboroughtheatre.com/ for tickets and further information.
Performance: Tue 15 Jan 2019, Harborough Theatre