Patrick Marber’s Closer, which debuted at the National Theatre in 1997, is a caustic, bitter exploration of modern relationships and the perils of lust. Those parts of us we keep hidden away – petty jealousies, nagging doubts that the grass is greener somewhere else – are laid bare, opened up and picked over in his study of four intertwined lovers.
Director David Leveaux’s gives us a particularly chilly take on the material – even during the play’s fleeting moments of happiness the quartet seem disconnected from their surroundings, alone with their egos. It’s all rather solipsistic. The coldness is reflected in the set design, which is all sharp angles, grim concrete and clinical white benches.
Beyond the styling, though, this revival is largely content to go through the motions. Leveaux seems slightly in awe of the material and none of his characters – all perfectly well acted by an impressive cast – feel any different from those we were first introduced to 17 years ago (and met again in the 2004 film adaptation).
It’s not that the play’s aged badly, more that it just hasn’t aged at all, hasn’t taken on any fresh layers of meaning. If you’re new to the material, you’re in for a treat; those already familiar with it will have to make do with a not unwelcome serving of nostalgia.
First published in City A.M.