Closer Theatre Review - Road-Tested But Not Ready

The Dermatologist, The Photographer, The Writer and his Lover. This is the love-quadrilateral, which is Patrick Marber’s Closer. Set in London, somewhere in the 1990s. Dan ( Matthew Oliva), an obiturary writer and failed journalist comes to the aid of an injured American, Alice ( Fabianne Therese). That encounter leads to Dan’s flirtation and Alice’s impromptu photo shot, both with successful photographer Anna ( Stefanie Anne Chapman). Dr. Larry ( Whit Giddens) interacts with Dan for the first time in a sex chat room. Impersonating Anna online, Dan makes a "date"  Larry, supplying him withe a time a place where he will encounter Anna herself. So Larry meets up with Anna, thinking she is the dirty talking sex kitten he met online. Once the revelation lands that Larry has been punk'd, a conversation nonetheless takes root, and an intrigue sparks between them.

Matthew Oliva in "Closer" @ Stella Adler Studio C

Now affectionately known to Larry and Anna as Cupid, Dan is not happy at all about the couple’s marriage a some four months later. Although he is involved with Alice, Dan comes to believe that he is in love with Anna. Similarly, Anna’s affection for Larry becomes to wane. Larry and Alice are left waiting and wondering if and when their respective lovers will leave them. Alice seems resigned to her fate, whatever it maybe while Larry’s bitterness festers. Thus, a perverted game of musical bedfellows begins.


Personally, I tend to have a problem with characters that constantly make bad decisions. “If characters don’t learn or change, why do we show up” – that is my prevailing philosophy. But these characters do not aspire to be better; they just aspire to go on. For the four characters of this play, there is an acceptable of one’s personal flaws, an embracing of one’s own darkness, which works in this script. 


Stefanie Anne Chapman and Fabianne Therese in "Closer" @ Stella Adler Studio C


The cast is first rate. Stefanie Anne Chapman’s Anna is a woman who tries in vain to learn how to feel. Failed novelist Dan’s insatiable desperation would be intolerable if Matthew Oliva did not portray him so utterly lost and anxious about circumstances of his own creation. Whit Giddens’ Dr, Larry dares anyone in his world to hate him more than he hates himself while chastising those who speak the pure truth he demands. In Alice, Fabianne Therese’s role is the play’s most vibrant character; Therese modulating that youthful energy against a spirit that is chronically disinterested in her own emotional or physical safety. Strong performances tended with the utmost professionalism, despite of a handful of technical complications, really won my respect and admiration.


This production of Closer takes a while to get started. All our characters were introduced by scene two, but the drama is really kick-started in the dialogue-lite, multimedia moments of scene three.


Whit Giddens in "Closer" @ Stella Adler Studio C

The only real problem with this production of Closer is the length. This two-act, twelve-scene drama takes place in twelve different locations. As such, significant set changes are required after every scene. All three stage hands do work with impressive alacrity. Nevertheless, these numerous transitions kill any chance of sustaining momentum in the storytelling. The production already enlists a minimalist approach with a sparsely furnished space; director June Barfield may need to go even further. More than two hours is really the kiss of death for this strong production that deserves an audience.


Just one girl’s opinion…


Closer is running now through February 20, 2011 at:

Stella Adler - Studio C Theatre
6773 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd Floor
Hollywood, CA 90028

Friday & Saturday 8:00PM
Sunday 7:00PM

$15.00 General Admission
$10.00 Students & Seniors (Use Promo Code 007)

Reservations: (323) 960-7785

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