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Closer Review 1997

The story focuses on love and relationships through the eyes of four strangers in a most horrendous and cruel way.

Dan (Clive Owen), a writer of Obituaries, falls in love with Alice (Liza Walker), a stripper who has a mysterious back ground. Dan writes a book about Alice's life and when he has some publicity photos taken, he meets and falls in love with the photographer, Anna (Sally Dexter). However, after a practical joke by Dan, using the Internet, Anna meets and falls in love with Larry (Ciaran Hinds), a dermatologist. As the story progresses all four become entwined in betrayal, jealousy and lies.

Yet again the National have got a winner in this production which is superbly cast. Ciaran Hinds, as Larry , a crude man as shown by his enjoyment of talking dirty on the Internet. He is someone who cannot forgive infidelities and plans revenge when he is betrayed, even though he is genuinely a caring man. Sally Dexter is equally good as the lonely, sad Anna, who doesn't know what she wants. There is a magnificent and convincing performance from Liza Walker, playing the strange and dark Alice. What is she hiding? Lastly, Clive Owen is probably the weakest actor, this is mainly because his character is not explored as much as the others.

NICK CURTIS of THE EVENING STANDARD loved the play saying, " ..this is an extraordinarily frank and funny play, written, directed and acted with real feeling." CHARLES SPENCER of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH loved it even more saying , "I'd be astonished if there's a better new play this year." However, not all critics are enthusiastic, JEREMY KINGSTON of THE TIMES is luke warm about the production, describing it as , " oddly unengaging" and going on to say, " while the players create characters that could almost be real ; directed by Marber himself ; they are given too few of the qualities that make us want to take note of them."

The sets are very basic with very little scenery. After each scene change the props are deliberately piled up at the back of the stage, which is fascinating, even if I can't work out why!

This is an impressive second play by Marber and should not be missed. Be warned there is a lot of bad language, but I think it is necessary to create the right atmosphere and tone for this powerful drama.

(Darren Dalglish)

Originally published on

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