A sensational revival has found itself at the Lyric Hammersmith this summer, in the form of Closer: a play of passion, cigarettes and scars. This mature piece is undoubtably fiery, and stirs a whirlwind of perceptions for every character at each turn.
Beginning with the introduction of Alice- depicted impeccably by Ella Hunt- she sings the first of several hauntingly beautiful renditions of covered 90s alternative tracks, to initiate the change of scene. With a spotlight beaming down from above, and creating a darkened space across the remaining intriguing set up, she is seen in a purple wig, with an injured leg outside a hospital, which we soon discover is from stepping out in front of a car. While finding food in a stranger's bag, he returns and is recognised as her saviour. Flirting from the outset, Alice and obituary writer Dan's (Jack Farthing) encounter is just the start of the turmoil to come.
Anna (played by Nina Toussaint-White) works in her studio as a photographer, and romantically clashes when composing a portrait with Dan for an upcoming exhibition. The stinging trail of betrayal and deception only builds from there, when he later sets Anna up to meet a dermatologist named Larry (Sam Troughton) by sending him saucy messages playing cupid and pretending to be her; the journey of love and lust between the four of them is nothing short of messy.
Patrick Marber's writing is fantastic. Cleverly entwining each perspective to portray accurate personalities and rich emotions for the main roles with equal vigour is a mean feat, while additionally ensuring the script is fast-paced, engaging and detailed, but consistently easy enough to follow. Direction by Clare Lizzimore makes for intuitive staging that allows for the narrative to form without any huge set pieces. The lighting, designed by Richard Howell, is highly commendable, as it gives the production the atmospheric flow required, and cooperatively fits well with the provocative reds and blacks of the space designed by Soutra Gilmour (who also proposed the apt costumes). Ensemble cast and musicians line the back of the stage and are effective in providing depth to the play with their inclusion.
The emotional connection and chemistry between characters is raw and rough, yet gains investment from the audience as they develop. Alice's stripper profession enhances her mysterious persona and quirky, seductive mannerisms that stun all those she meets, while Dan's initial innocence is quickly removed, as is Anna's. Alongside Larry, they have numerous heated scenes (in both conversation and otherwise) in their respective couples, leaving the show both scandalous and dramatic through some skilful acting.
Overall, Closer is a well-versed play that remains relevant. While heavy in moments, the powerful unraveling of events being tied together with such a profound ending will leave you thinking of it long after you leave the room. There is no doubt that with the limitless obscenities and raunchy themes, this one is very adult, but generally brings almost everything needed for a prosperous production.