When the cast of Closed Doors were taking their bow, they mentioned that this show existed as a book and as an album, and I immediately wished I had listened to the album. Not because I was floored by the show’s brilliance, but because Closed Doors felt like an album and a poem retrofitted for the stage. A good album, and a good poem, but not one that makes for a good stage show.
I’d really rather have just read the book.
When a bomb threat is called in to a block of flats in a nameless Scottish city, four women of various different backgrounds take refuge in the shop across the street, where they debate who did it, and why. But the core of this show is easily the music. Performed by Scottish indie band Novasound, from hearing them warm up in the queue outside, the songs draw you into a gloomy, dark and nervous atmosphere. Without a single rain effect, you feel almost like you are in the midst of a rainstorm on a nervous night where anything is possible. This carries the show forward, with the voices of the performers showing more emotion in themselves than any of the graphics, the words, or the lights do.
What makes this hard is that a stage show isn’t only about music. It’s also about movement, graphics, acting, and more, and it’s here that a lot is lacking. While this does implement a lot of elements of spoken word, which make the lack of general action less heinous, it is very noticeable that the actors do very little beyond playing their instruments. This could have been supported by greater use of projections, as they do in the first and last ten minutes of the play, but that middle bit feels very empty. And while the story itself is a compelling tale of learning to adapt to increasingly diverse and downtrodden neighborhoods, it isn’t particularly fun or interesting to watch onstage. Hence why I’d really rather have just read the book.