For many, finding true love is one of the goals of life. For the characters of Patrick Marber’s play “Closer,” love is a means to an intangible end.
“Closer” follows four Londoners as they climb in and out of each other’s beds in search of that unknown happiness. For a time, love itself is enough for them, but they never find that illusory goal, no matter whose arms they are in.
The characters come from all walks of life. Alice is a young stripper who has recently returned to London from New York. She meets Dan, an obituary writer, who takes her to a hospital after she is hit by a car. They soon fall in love, and Dan writes a novel about her life.
During a photo shoot for his new book, Dan meets Anna, an upper class photographer. His love for Alice is soon forgotten in his new obsession for Anna, who refutes his advances. In one of the comedic moments of the play, Dan poses as Anna on the Internet and talks dirty to Larry, a dermatologist new to the world of cyber sex. Larry soon meets the real Anna, and the two eventually marry.
The obligatory happily-ever-after never comes. Dan continues to pursue Anna before she is married and the two have an affair during both her engagement and marriage. Their relationships soon crumble, leaving a devastated Larry and Alice in the rubble.
The cast of “Closer” does an amazing job with the already strong characters. Alice, played by Michelle Federer, is a stripper, but she will not be a whore. She believes in love more than any of the others. Susan Riley Stevens plays Anna, a woman who wants to be treated with both tenderness and indelicacy. As Dan, Peter Pryor is a man who is looking for a perfect love that does not exist. Patrick Brinker takes the role of Larry, who wants love but is obsessed with the temptations of lust.
The directing, set, and lighting set the scene of a modern story about the follies of love. Couches, tables, desks and chairs roll in and out of the many scenes of the play, like the lovers going from one partner to the other.
As the entanglements become more complex, the play begins to lose some of its realism. But this is theater after all and some suspension of disbelief is required.
A play about hope and unrealistic expectations, “Closer” is shot through with comedy, profanity and misery. It examines the fact that although modern technology has provided new forums for love, it still remains basically unchanged. It takes on many forms, embraces many people, and never has the same ending. “Closer” portrays all of this with a gut-wrenching force that leaves a lasting impression.
“Closer” will be playing at the Arden Theatre until March 3.