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a Drama
by Patrick Marber

COMPANY : Onion Man Productions [WEBSITE]
ID# 5034

SHOWING : February 09, 2017 - February 26, 2017



A viciously clever comedic-drama about the entanglements of four Londoners over four years

Director James Beck
Asst. Director Jennica Hill
Asst. Director Jillian Walzer
Stage Manager Brandi Kilgore
Crew Natasha Patel
Crew Nick Suwalski
Original Soundtrack Julie Slonecki
Larry Greg Fitzgerald
Anna Melissa Rainey
Alice Janie Young
Dan Patrick S. Young
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Farther Apart Over Time
by playgoer
Monday, February 27, 2017
Patrick Marber’s "Closer" tells the story across several years of four heterosexual Londoners who take on almost every possible sexual combination and recombination (minus girl-on-girl action). Obviously, the success of a production relies on the sexual chemistry among the cast members. Since one half of the cast is older than the other half, this is a bit tricky, given how society views older woman/younger man relationships as outside the norm. Here, things don’t work in all combinations, even given the casting of real-life husband and wife Patrick Young and Janie Young as the younger couple.

The script sets each new scene in a new location, which poses a challenge to the tiny Onion Man stage, even though the downstage edge of the stage has been extended to create more playing space. Set design by James Beck and Patrick Young meets the challenge by using the entire upstage space for furniture storage, bringing forward the pieces needed for each scene, repurposing many to indicate different locales. The most clever re-use is a square white platform that gets tilted on one edge to serve as a projection screen for a couple of scenes.

James Beck’s lighting and sound design enhance the production. Red lights gently illuminate the upstage section of the stage, making for a nice pre-show effect. Each scene is illuminated more evenly than I have come to expect at Onion Man. Julie Slonecki’s musical score covers the many scene changes, and background noises subtly help to set some of the public locations. Costumes by the cast and crew work well for each character, with Ms. Young’s costumes the most flamboyant.

Director James Beck, assisted by Jennica Hill and Jillian Walzer, has created a nice flow for the production, making good use of the stage and getting the actors to hit all the emotional moments needed. That’s not to say that every moment works. Mr. Marber’s script requires the actors to shift affections multiple times during the course of the show, and it tends to become more schematic than organic as time goes by (and a lot of time goes by in this relatively long production).

Playing a randy dermatologist, Gregory Fitzgerald is a wonder, milking the comedy of his initial scenes, while succeeding equally in the more dramatic scenes that follow. Melissa Rainey projects great sincerity and likeability in her role as a photographer, but doesn’t click the camera like a sure-handed pro and doesn’t exude a sexiness that makes sense of all the plot’s romances. Janie Young is quite good as the damaged stripper Alice, although a few more quirks might have added depth to her portrayal. Patrick Young is a disappointment as an obituary writer and failed novelist, with an iffy English accent and a lack of nuance and range to cover all the wide-ranging behaviors of his character. This four-hander play requires phenomenal performances that Onion Man’s production can’t fully provide.

"Closer" is definitely adult material, but the shock value of some scenes alternates with less viscerally exciting stuff, leading one audience member to marvel that he started drifting off in the midst of all the sexual edginess. The play is longer and less cleverly plotted than would be needed to come across as much more than an extended acting exercise. There’s worthwhile work to be seen onstage, but the play isn’t as mesmerizing as it might be in the hands of world-class actors. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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