Theatre review: Closer is going through the motions

 
Steve Dinneen
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Closer is a fascinating but rather clinical examination of lust and relationships

Donmar Warehouse | ★★★☆☆

Patrick Marber’s Closer, which debuted at the National Theatre in 1997, is a caustic, bitter, sometimes hilarious exploration of modern relationships and the perils of lust. Those parts of us we keep hidden away – petty jealousies, nagging doubts that the grass is greener somewhere else – are laid bare, opened up and picked over in his study of four intertwined lovers.
Director David Leveaux’s take on the material is rather chilly; even during moments of happiness, the quartet seem disconnected, casting a solipsistic shadow over the events. The coldness is reflected in the set design, which is all sharp angles, grim concrete and clinical white.
But iciness aside, this revival seems largely content to go through the motions, as if Leveaux is slightly in awe of the material. None of the characters – all perfectly well acted by an impressive cast – feel any different from those we met 17 years ago (and met again in the 2004 film adaptation, for that matter).
It’s not that the play has aged badly, more that it just hasn’t aged at all, hasn’t taken on any new layers of meaning for the next generation. Anyone new to the material is in for a treat; those already familiar with it should brace themselves for a not unwelcome serving of nostalgia.

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