In love, do we see what we want to see? Or do we accept the person as they are? Do we still want them, regardless?
Closer is raw, bare as the emotions that are exposed, with no frills. It suits the show as the piece is full of the big messy expectations and desires that come with falling in love or the idea of love. Four people meet in London, fall in and out love, and go back again. The flirtations mask a desperate need to belong to someone.
Writer Dan (Tommy Furino) meets Alice (a coquettish Emanuelle Ranger), a young American stripper. Her stories about her life inspire him for his first novel. More than a year later, Dan meets photographer Anna (Kristina Sandev) who is assigned to take his picture for the publication of the novel. Dan is immediately infatuated with Anna who resists his advances. Later, Anna meets Larry (Izak Benrobi), a dermatologist. Larry is crude and vulgar. But Anna is attracted to him. As the relationships move forward, everyone’s paths cross, and the couples break up to pursue the other. The manipulations, the dishonesty, and the back and forth reveal characters at odds with themselves and their feelings. Debates about sex are frank and brutal but the characters evade from the most frightening experience of all: being true to themselves and their partners.
Ms. Sandev is splendid as she portrays Anna’s cruelty and humanity. Mr. Furino brings pathos to the foolish romantic Dan. Mr. Benrobi finds the humour in Larry’s baseness.
The set is very simple: some furnishings, a few props, and a screen for projecting background locations. The sparseness gives room to the big emotional expositions. The actors fill the space with the energy of the words and the unnerving passion of the characters. It is harsh but surprising in its moments of humour and tenderness.
Do we really know what we want in love? It is easy to fall in love with the potential instead of the person. For true love to flourish, it should begin by being true to oneself. However, that journey can be as paved with pitfalls as falling in love. Still, both are worth the risk.
Photo credit: Tristan Brand
Closer: performed by Acts to Grind Theatre. Written by Patrick Marber. Directed by Davyn Ryall. Show runs until April 9; Mainline Theatre, 3997 St-Laurent. Tickets $20 to $12. Call 514-849-3378 or go to www.mainlinetheatre.ca