FEBRUARY 22, 2010

Audiences get a Closer look at love
Scotch’n’Soda’s latest show explores the complications of romance

By Jesse Kummer, The Tartan, February 22, 2010

Shannon Deep, Photo Credit: Celia LudwinskiLast weekend, Scotch’n’Soda put on three performances of Closer, a play by Patrick Marber that premiered in London in 1997 and was later adapted into a screenplay for the 2004 film of the same name. The play follows two men and two women who engage in a constant, yet believable, swapping of partners as they dance along the tightrope that is the truth. Each character adds his or her own level of deceit, in both playful and ugly ways, until relationships simply become a complicated mess where no one is able to leave emotionally unscathed.

The film version of Closer consisted of a star-studded cast of some of Hollywood’s finest actors. Julia Roberts (Anna), Natalie Portman (Alice), Jude Law (Dan), and Clive Owen (Larry) — who actually starred in the original stage production as Dan — received much praise for their work in the vulgar yet articulate adaptation of stage to the big screen. Portman and Owen even won Golden Globes for their roles in the movie.

The Scotch’n’Soda production of Closer stood up nicely against the film adaptation. Senior biology major Michelle Stewart (Alice), senior BHA student Shannon Deep (Anna), senior music major Scott Wasserman (Dan), and senior computer science major Matt Goldfarb (Larry) gave wonderful and distinctively different performances as the four leads whose intricate relationships bring them closer together than they ever intended to be.

Stewart’s performance as Alice was unique. Alice was by far the most lovable character due to her quirky and simplistic nature. Stewart brought out each and every trait in a believable way, even managing to do so when she was half naked on stage. Our other leading lady, Shannon Deep, did a fantastic job of playing the more mature and seemingly in-control Anna. When she was in a scene, the dialogue just seemed to flow much better and it felt like the cast was having realistic conversations on stage rather than merely delivering lines.

Shannon Deep, Photo Credit: Celia LudwinskiThe most important part of the show was the dynamic in each of the one-on-one relationships that take place throughout the course of the play. The actors brought out some of the best parts of each other, be it the puppy love shown between Alice and Dan, the maturity between Larry and Anna who know what they want, or even the links connecting the couples. The most interesting plot point was the spiteful way in which each character treated the others at different parts of the show.

Such a well-known and well-respected film obviously brings challenges to those who attempt to replicate it. Director Caity Pitts spoke briefly about some of what she faced after choosing this project. “I told them to let the material speak for itself and I didn’t want them to just go out and mimic the famous Jude Law or Natalie Portman,” she said. “I really wanted them to make it their own and make it more realistic for the audience.”