Patrick Marber’s Closer headed to Lyric Hammersmith, for its 25th-anniversary revival. The Olivier award-winning play explores love, sex, and desire and has been given a radical revival by the director, Clare Lizzimore.

Credit: Marc Brenner

Set in 1990s London, Closer follows 4 strangers who meet, fall in love, and become embroiled in a complicated affair. Although the focal themes are lust, sex, and desire, we are presented with a heap of deception and mistrust, as we follow the characters and their entanglement across several years.

With a minimalistic set design, a chorus and on-stage live band, this production allows us to focus entirely on the words shared between the characters.

Credit: Marc Brenner

Starring Jack Farthing, Ella Hunt, Nina Toussaint-White, Sam Troughton as the quartet, there are captivating scenes throughout. We saw fantastic performances from the cast, who convincingly play these normal yet incredibly flawed characters. Their actions are selfish and conniving, leaving the audience having mixed emotions on how we react to the characters. Each of them experience being the victim as well as the perpetrator, making it difficult to feel sympathy.

The dialogue was the strongest element of the show and certainly captured the audience’s full attention. Warber’s script is sharp, powerful, and humorous. I loved how the characters interacted in a back-and-forth, witty manner. There were memorable lines that stood out (“Have you ever seen a human heart? It is a first wrapped in blood” and “They like how we make them feel, but not us.”) The sexual politics is shown through the language and character dynamics.

Farthing and Troughton play the two male characters Dan and Larry. Their choice of words when talking to the female characters and their main concerns during the whole affairs being related to sex and the jealousy around this, was all very telling.

Troughton as Larry was the standout performer during the play. Although all four were deceitful, Larry appeared to be the most straightforward and genuine character. He was accepting of his mistakes and showed clear signs of heartbreak. His erratic outbursts and perfect delivery of the sarcastic and comical lines had the audience in stitches.

Credit: Marc Brenner

It was interesting to see how dysfunctional the relationships became as the years went on. The second half was powerful as it included heated exchanges, plot twists, and impressive cross-cutting scenes. I noticed the language became more profane and explicit, as the characters expressed their frustrations and desperations. They tend to go round in circles, constantly switching and cheating on their partners, which at first was surprising but then it began to feel slightly confusing. I loved the live music as it amplified the intensity in this play. We listened to the most breath-taking solo from clarinettist, Arun Ghosh, following quite a surprising scene in Act 2. I wished there were more instrumental solos from the band. Hunt who played the elusive Alice Ayres, would grace the stage with her singing interludes of 90s music. This seemed quite random, especially as it was frequent, however I still enjoyed Hunt’s beautiful vocals.

Closer is far from a romantic play. It is rather brutal and reveals the ugly side of relationships. The production is exciting, complex and will have you completely engaged for all 2 hours. You can catch performances at Lyric Hammersmith Theatre until 13th August!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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