Closer Review 2015
Patrick Marber's play Closer originally premiered in 1997 at the National Theatre, before subsequently transferring to the West End and Broadway and being made into a 2004 film that starred Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen (swapping roles from the one he created in the original stage version).
It really caught the pulse of its times in its anguished portrait of young London professionals seeking to connect and breaking each other's vulnerable hearts. There was even one of the theatre's first onstage cybersex chats, so the play was definitely ahead of its time.
But 18 years later, how does it feel? David Leveaux's superbly nuanced and alert production makes it seem as blistering, contemporary and alive as it was then. One or two references are gone - like to the fashionability of New York's Paramount Hotel - and the characters also carry slimline laptops and mobiles.
Never mind the technology, though; the vagaries of these intersecting lives, flowing and floundering around each other, is constant, as two men - a surgeon and a journalist - are engaged in competitive battles with each other over two women, a photographer and a stripper.
This layered portrait of love, sex, deceit and desire plays with agonising, sometimes brutal feeling. And it is played to a bruising perfection by the stunning ensemble cast of Rufus Sewell, Nancy Carroll, Oliver Chris and relative newcomer Rachel Redford. Haunting and harrowing by turns, they make this one of the most chilling and churning plays in town.
"Elegantly designed by Bunny Christie to evoke a world of minimalist modishness, this is a production that convinces one that Marber’s play is much more than the product of its time. It is an alarmingly durable, well-structured play about the distance between men and women and the restless neediness of love."
Michael Billington for The Guardian
"What’s missing, though, is real passion. Rufus Sewell is on thrilling form as Larry, a dermatologist who veers between a caveman’s lust and moments of demented sensitivity. But elsewhere David Leveaux’s production feels stilted."
Henry Hitchings for The Evening Standard
"Almost two decades on, the shock value has slightly eroded to leave the play’s intricate, ludic structure interestingly exposed in David Leveaux’s coolly controlled revival."
Jane Shilling for The Telegraph