Closer By Patrick Marber
Directed by Paul Castaneda
Greater Orlando Actors Theatre
Winter Park, FL
You’ll need good note keeping skills in this boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets girl, boy loses girl drama. Dan (John Bateman) simultaneously seduces photographer Anna (Nikki Darden) and stripper Alice (Bunny Fitzgerald). He met Alice when she was hit by a car, and used his obituary writing skills to turn her story in to a semi-successful novel. He met Anna when the book went to press and he needed a professional head shot. In his spare time Dan pretends to be a hooker on line and that’s where he meets Dr. Larry (Wyatt Glover). As a prank he describes himself with Anna’s hair and boobs, and then sends Dr. Larry to the London Aquarium for a hook up. Using one of those handy writerly coincidences, Anna really is at the Aquarium, and hits it off with Dr. Larry. Now everybody falls in and out of love with everyone else except for the two possible gay pairings. While I was waiting for them, I was relieved when Marber skipped that level of sleaze.
With a brutal story of infidelity and forgiveness, it’s fortunate we have a generally strong cast of actors. Bateman as Dan was soulless and amoral, yet oddly charming – you could see what a woman would see in him, even if you knew he was poison. Standing opposite him was a potentially violent Dr. Larry who just wanted love, or at least regular sex, and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. Alice was completely and utterly lost, and in portraying her Ms. Fitzgerald ranged from erotic to sleazy to haggard, although she didn’t project well. Anna seemed the most mature, yet even she succeeded in marrying one man while beginning an affair with another the same week. Both men beat her, which she took this in stride. I never understand that, but here it is.
Two textual questions came up over and over – “Are you OK?” and “The truth.” Neither seemed to be what they meant. The act of truth telling felt more like a body blow and a declaration of a fight the other party may not have wanted. No one ever told the truth until it could damage at least one person’s self image. The inquiry about OK-ness served to alert the other party that a battle was brewing, and gave them a few minutes to hit the air raid sirens and head to the fallout shelters. Here we have a play about passive-aggressive behavior pushed to its limits, and it makes Virginia Woolf look like a fun evening. I’m torn here – the story is gruesome but the acting excellent, but I’ll advise this: go alone, wear dark glasses and a trench coat, and sit in the back. It somehow feels safer there.
For more information on Greater Orlando Actor’s Theatre, please visit http://www.goatgroup.com/