This was my first visit to the Archway Theatre in Horley, to see Closer by Patrick Marber. I found out about this theatre via the Little Theatre Guild and I’m please that I did. Closer is a play we’re recommended reading/seeing for my Postwar British and Irish module and I’ll certainly be returning to this pleasant theatre. It’s called The Archway Theatre for an obvious reason:
It’s literally built under the arches. What a superb space though, there’s a great bar area, for a pre-show and interval tipple and the theatre is modern and plush. Even I at five foot six had to duck as we enter the theatre itself but the arch is suitably padded and the steward warned us with plenty of time to “watch your heads”.
So the theatre gets thumbs up, what about the play???
I saw the revival of Marber’s Dealers Choice when it was on in the West End in 2007. I really enjoyed it and Marber’s excellent use of comical and gritty dialogue with a great sense of rhythm. Closer certainly has these hallmarks as Marber explores the issues surrounding relationships, communication, sex and identity. Originally written back in 1997, it still feels contemporary and the issues are still pertinent.
The small cast of four gave us an insight into the complicated lives of their characters, I’m sure people do make their lives this complicated, but I’m glad mine isn’t! Beth Easton played the role of Alice, with a subtlety and sadness that was moving. I really felt the mystery and dilemma of her existence came to the fore. Olee Bass gave a commendable performance as the failed writer Dan. Kevin Day gave a top performance as Larry, the Dr who to me I empathized with and other times wanted to give a good slap too for being such a pig! Mandy Humphrey gave a perceptive touch to the character of Anna, that again was very moving.
It’s a play with many challenges from a technical side, there are 12 scenes all in different locations ranging from an Accident and Emergency unit to strip club to an aquarium. This was cleverly done and the use of music throughout the play and scene changes really helped set the scene. Rather than going for complex sets, the simplicity and use of the stage area were just right and kept the pace of the play moving which was great.
Director Bradley Barlow in the programme writes about his passion for this play, he originally saw the film and then dashed out to the uni library to get the script just before the library closed for the night. He then spent the evening repeatedly reading it. His enthusiasm for this play certainly came through in the production.
I congratulate the cast for taking this play on and giving such a sterling performance of it. I hope that they put on another of Marber’s plays in the near future. I’m glad I’ve seen it, Marber certainly is a quality contemporary playwright, Dealer’s Choice and now Closer are certainly up there with my favourite of modern plays. Marber hasn’t written one for a while, I look forward to his next, and trust it’s a question of quality not quantity with his plays.