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A different vantage on freedom in Closer



Interpersonal responsibility—and its frequent divestment by a quartet of young, upwardly mobile Gen X'ers in London at the turn of the last century—is also a touchstone in CLOSER, the daring inaugural effort by She's a Nelson Productions in collaboration with Burning Coal Theatre.

Under Paul Sapp's direction, Patrick Marber's razor-witted 1997 drama suggests a generational update of Arthur Schnitzler's sexual round robin, La Ronde, and Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

The human pinball here is Dan (a deceptively nebbishy Brian Fisher), a newspaper obituary writer whose delight in the enigmatic Alice (a mercurial Lilly Nelson) only partially masks his infidelities with everyone he encounters. After parlaying his accidental encounter with Alice into both a relationship and a debut novel based on her experiences as a stripper, Dan careens into the lives of photographer Anna (given a sharp-eyed, calculated performance here by Laurel Ullman) and Larry (a slow-burning Miles Snow), a dermatologist whose mild exterior conceals a secret all his own.

When this group claws so willfully at the walls that separate them, all find themselves, sooner or later, without shelter. The brutal truth, expressed in remorseless confessions about various adulteries, sets no one free. But it does delineate an all but unbridgeable gap among these four: the distance between sex and intimacy.

This article appeared in print with the headline "20th century rising."

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