Closer

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.

Reviews by NJ Joslin

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★★★
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Since you’re here…

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Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Four lives intertwine over the course of four and a half years in this densely-plotted, stinging look at modern love and betrayal. Their lives are permanently altered when two of them have a passionate affair. We explore and delve into the brutal anatomy of modern romance, where a quartet of strangers meet, fall in love, and become caught up in a web of sexual desire and jealousy, often drawing out deep human isolation, vulnerability and destructiveness. Directed by Lauren Varnfield (“electric” – Plays International) Pretty Villain are Brighton Fringe Award Winners 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.

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