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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

ETB’s Closer crosses the pond

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Three things I love convening in one play: London, nineties fashion, and theatre. There was no way I could hate this week’s ETB production, Patrick Marber’s Closer, directed by Emma Halper ‘18. This is a play about people who hurt each other. Then, they turn around asking for love, but they do it in kickass vintage clothes in a sleek, high quality production.

Mysterious young Alice (Kristen Nassar ’16) bursts onto the stage with a deep gash on her leg, aided by middle-aged obituary writer Dan (Sam Braslow ’15) and passing by dermatologist Larry (Henry Southwick ’15). With one look at his sandwich, complete with the crusts cut off, Alice falls in love with Dan, and the plot leaps forward from there.

Inspired by Alice’s past as a stripper, he writes a book about her, and meets photographer Anna (Sarah Olson ’15) while on his publication tour. The characters enter a series of occasionally overwrought affairs with each other, which grow more and more complex.

The plot is fragmented, with sequential scenes happening anywhere from days to years apart. Sometimes I found myself thinking, “Wait, what happened?” before realizing that was the intention—to feel the instability the characters encounter.

I was frustrated with the male characters, who are selfish and have frequent violent outbursts. Dan is a hypocritical scumbag, and Larry is aggressively predatory, telling his partner “You owe me something for deceiving me so exquisitely.” There’s a lot of discourse about Alice being a “girl” and Anna being a “woman,” so nobody truly respects Alice, who is incredibly nuanced and complex.

However, the women aren’t exactly angels, either. Alice is unpredictable and vindictive, and Anna never knows what she wants. The dialogue is anything but subtle, and gets right to the point, dropping plenty of memorable one-liners like “Everyone leaves, but nobody changes” and “I didn’t fall in love, I chose to” in tandem to references to Panic! At the Disco and Fallout Boy lyrics.

Although the show is set in London, Halper made the fine production choice of leaving the characters with American accents. I was surprised by how much I felt the British essences of the characters shine through the actors’ mannerisms.

Their performances balanced each other well, with Braslow and Southwick especially shining in a scene without any dialogue at all. Instead, the characters speak through computers, and their facial expressions and silence convey an honest humor.

The staging is simple yet ingenious, using projections, a split stage, and a smooth soundtrack to frame the performances, but of course, the costumes deserve mention. While Nassar’s shoes and costumes are undoubtedly winners, Olson’s high-waisted jeans deserve honorable mention, and Southwick looks positively Grey’s Anatomy in his doctor’s coat. This play is heart wrenching and at times, hard to watch, but it’s a gorgeous, well-acted production.

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