“Closer” is a witty, deeply emotional play with characters that are hard to cheer for but uncomfortably relatable. It’s the story of four people who meet, fall in love, fall out of love, fall apart and try to find themselves.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie. In 2004, an all-star cast brought the already well-known play to life featuring Julia Roberts, Nathalie Portman, Clive Owen and Jude Law. When I say ‘already well-known’, I mean it. “Closer” is a very popular piece of theatre. Like “The Laramie Project”, it’s candy for emerging production companies and actors as well. A piece that requires only a minimal set and a small, manageable cast are only some of the qualities that make it attractive. Complicated characters that run the gamut from comedy to despair are also appealing to young actors looking to explore their range and bite off a challenge.
RAW Productions and first-time director Alex Goldrich tackle the subject matter at a breakneck speed, with the actors going through an obstacle course of emotions without any hesitation. It’s an almost Olympian task, and one that this tight cast of local performers rise to whole heartedly.
The play is told minimally with only a few props and set pieces. It’s clear within the first few minutes that this is a piece that requires top-notch actors, as it’s entirely about the performances – the words, the emotions. The story unfolds quickly, the characters deconstructing each other but it’s the ones doing the deconstructing that are the most fun to watch. It’s in these moments that the characters truly reveal themselves, their motives and weaknesses.
Karine Kerr (Alice) is a performer unafraid of taking risks. It’s not easy to leave yourself so exposed on stage, yet her focus and embodiment of the character are a joy to watch. Stephanie Coco Palermo (Anna) brings a different type of character to the story, particularly for anyone who’s seen the movie. Her take on Anna is more emotional and fiery, but no less entertaining than her big screen counterpart.
Both male roles are performed outstandingly well. Lucas Chartier-Dessert (Dan) and Alex Gravenstein (Larry) make it all look so easy with clearly defined characters who don’t even need to speak for you to understand who they are. That being said, any show that uses accents is a challenge and these two do an exceptional job convincing the audience they are authentically British.
Though we’re never excluded, blocking in a space like Mainline is always a riddle and this version of Closer seems to have been staged (correctly so) anticipating full audiences. This means that a lot of the scenes are played to audience sections that aren’t there and entire moments are lost if you’re not sitting in the exact right spot.
This is the type of show that belongs at Mainline. Edgy, dirty and raw – but also entertaining. At over two hours, Closer could easily have had me looking at my watch, but I didn’t. Not only because I forgot to wear a watch, but mostly because I was always so interested to see what would happen next.
There are only three more showings of Closer left (Thursday,Friday & Saturday at 8PM). This really is a great opportunity to go out and support live theatre in Montreal. Mainline Theatre is located at 3997 Boul. St-Laurent.
For more information visit: www.rawproductions.ca