Sam Troughton as Larry
Noina Toussaint-White as Anna
in Closer at the Lyric Hammersmith 2022
Photo by Marc Brenner
051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber
Patrick Marber’s play Closer depicts a merry-go-round of metropolitan relationships powered by sex and betrayal, where partners fall in and out of love in constant search of new stimulation and self-worth. The play premiered at the National Theatre in 1997, and its clever and candid dissection of the destructive power of sexual desire hit a contemporary nerve, propelling it on to the West End and Broadway, and winning Olivier and NY Critics Circle Awards. It was also made into a film in 2005, directed by Mike Nichols, and starring Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Natalie Portman.
Now twenty-five years on the play has been revived at the Lyric Hammersmith in a dazzling new production directed by Clare Lizzimore. Clare joins me in this episode to explore how Marber’s portrait of sexual behaviour written in a different social and moral time has aged. Does its unflinching display of basic instincts still offer salutary truths in our #MeToo world?
Clare Lizzimore is a director and a writer. She was a resident director the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow and a staff director at the National Theatre, and she has directed numerous plays as part of the Royal Court Theatre’s international programme.
More recently she has directed plays not only at the Royal Court, but at the Arcola, Theatre 503, Hampstead, the Kiln, the Old Fire Station in Oxford and at the Young Vic, where her production of Mike Bartlett’s play Bull won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.
As a playwright, Clare has written plays for the Royal Court and the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.
Clare recommended The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh
Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull was a disaster on its opening night in St Petersburg in 1896. The unsettling blend of comedy and pathos that confused the first critics and audience were subsequently recognised as seminal in the evolution of modern drama.
I’m delighted to welcome back playwright and professor, Dan Rebellato, to talk about Chekhov and his timeless play.
Jez Butterworth’s play Jersualem is one of the landmark plays of the 21st century, acclaimed for both its lyrical and elusive text exploring English identity, and for its electrifying theatrical production. The once-in-a lifetime performance is happily being repeated with the current West End revival, and it seems fitting that our 50th episode be devoted to this remarkable play. I’m joined by David Ian Rabey, Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University and author of The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth.
Although August Wilson’s play Jitney is set in the office of an unlicensed taxi company in Pittsburgh in 1977, its themes, and the relationships and hopes and dreams of its characters are universal. I’m joined in this episode by actors Wil Johnson and Tony Marshall who are currently starring in the Old Vic’s vibrant new production of the play.