Award-winning company Pretty Villian return to Brighton Fringe with Closer, an unembellished look at the lives of four characters as they become increasingly intertwined with one another until their sexual desires and frustrations bring them to breaking point.
A testing ensemble that doesn’t shy away from the pains of modern love.
It’s well written, well performed and mildly comic at times, although archetypal direction and delivery means we are not convinced on all accounts.
The set is comprised of two tables, flipped or turned here and there to add a sense of location. The props are few and far between and the costuming is kept simple. We’re left at the behest of the actors and the writing for exposition and this does well to develop intrigue and ramp up our interest. Some scenes begin in an ultimately unknown location and we’re carefully fed information on the timescale and setting which keeps us on our toes. It’s a self-assured production, with well-rounded personas, Caitlin Cameron’s ‘Alice’ being not only the cloudiest of charismas but also the most relatable – she’s a brilliant actress.
The play has all the callings of a modern day love mess, with our characters cheating, lying, losing their tempers and losing their minds. However, the delivery is one of a traditional stage production, where every word is recited on cue, every direction adhered to and the glances and the dramatic turns performed with sensation. We’re watching theatre here, so we expect nothing more or less, but within the context of contemporary infidelity I hoped for something a little more haphazard, cockier perhaps, outbursts that could peel the underbelly of young love rather than announce its complications.
Closer is a testing ensemble because it doesn’t shy away from the pains of modern love; there’s a lot of sex talk, and some truly vivid recollections of intimate particulars. We’re privy to each minute detail but it’s delivered in such a way that it never feels sore. Is this a triumph or a misfire? I am in two minds.