Review Roundup: CLOSER, Red Turnip Theater's Maiden Production Venture
"Closer," the 1999 Tony Award nominated play by Patrick Marber, opens Red Turnip's first season, which runs until Sunday, October 27 at Whitespace (2314 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City).
The play's licensor, Dramatist Play Service, Inc., best tells the story of "Closer": "Four lives intertwine over the course of four and a half years in this densely plotted, stinging look at modern love and betrayal.
"Dan, an obituary writer, meets Alice, a stripper, after an accident in the street. Eighteen months later, they are a couple, and Dan has written a novel inspired by Alice. While posing for his book jacket cover, Dan meets Anna, a photographer. He pursues her, but she rejects his advances despite their mutual attraction. Larry, a dermatologist, "meets" Dan in an Internet chat room. Dan, obsessing over Anna, pretends to be her and has cybersex with Larry. They arrange to meet the next day at an aquarium. Larry arrives and so too, coincidentally, does the real Anna. This sets up a series of pass-the-lover scenes in which this quartet struggle to find intimacy but can't seem to get closer."
Red Turnip's production of "Closer," directed by Abad Santos, features TV and film stars Angel Aquino (Anna) and Marc Abaya (Dan) and seasoned theater actors Villonco (Alice) and Bart Guingona (Larry).
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNNews.com: As Dan, Marc Abaya, who started as a rocker/musician before venturing into TV soaps, appeared tentative in his approach to his character. There was a lack of chemistry with his fellow actors, and crucially with his partner Cris Villongo as Alice in the first few scenes. He was far more confident in the second act, however, which suggests that he is bound to improve as the run progresses.
Angel Aquino may be an award-winning actress for her movies -- she was terrific in "On the Job" -- but she has yet to master the kind of acting required in theater. Her moves and expressions were far too slight and more attuned for the camera. But what she brings to "Closer" is far more valuable. Her stage presence is just out of this world. In fact, her beauty can be a distraction since she effortlessly commands attention. You just stare at her. And stare some more. And fall in love. When she emerges in that slim black-and-white gown, all eyes were definitely on her.
Cora Llamas, Philippine Daily Inquirer: The performances of all four leads are undoubtedly earnest. Abad Santos directs with a restrained hand, and there are no histrionics and no unnecessary emotional explosions of the sort that degenerate into melodrama. However, the play proceeds at a glacial pace. The story and the performances creep along, and the intended increasing rise in intensity as the conflicts happen and the emotions unravel keep the emotional playing field at a steady, monotonous level.
The chemistry among the alternating pair of lovers does not truly sparkle. There are arresting performances from the veterans, and Villonco easily steals the thunder from everyone else-but this is a play that requires the characters to rise together as one, and not do solo star turns, even if unintended.
Jocelyn Valle, Pep.ph: The minimalist set design (a bench in one scene, a bed in another, etc.) is aided by background images (a large photo of a melancholic Alice during Anna's photo exhibit, a visual display of Dan and Larry's racy chat, etc.). This way, the audience is able to focus on the story and the actors' performances.