With leaden dialogue, predictable narrative and a seriously problematic climax, Closure is a heavy-handed morality tale that borrows extensively from other media.
When Laura and new boyfriend Alex go to Mia’s home, who would guess that it would turn into the dinner party from hell? The audience well might, as from the first scene, Closure is a play that asks that you wholly suspend your disbelief. With staging that’s only intent is to keep Alex from seeing his host, the opening exchanges are shouted off (and on), as a challenging risotto keeps Mia in the kitchen. This is pure exposition, as it is important that Laura’s “dream boyfriend” is established before it all goes wrong. Which is does as soon as Mia actually enters.
With dialogue that is devoid of any subtext, Alex immediately identifies the woman they are guests of as Millie, a Scouser he went to Uni with, rather than the “posh” yoga friend Laura has held her out to be. He feigns illness to try and make a hasty retreat, however he is persuaded to stay, despite urgently telling his girlfriend that this is a woman who is obsessed with him and previously tried to ruin his life.
It is inexplicable that Alex stays. It is even more implausible that he both eats and drinks, while clearly fearful that he will be drugged or poisoned. And then he is. What transpires next is a treatise on sexual assault – worthy subject matter, but handled in a pretty tactless manner. The facts and figures associated with rape and sexual offence prosecutions are a salient point, but Millie dancing to “stuck in the middle with you” as she ties up her dinner guests is gauche at best. Having been gaslit and treated as “crazy”, she still takes on that persona, seemingly with no sense of irony and with no subtlety. Alex’s reveal as a predatory misogynist who states that “all men want to do it” is jarring and uncomfortable, but not in the way that was likely intended. His dialogue is clumsily written, and he repeatedly stutters “why are you doing this”, although it is abundantly clear and has already been painstakingly explained. Laura has the potential to be the most interesting character, with a big turnaround, but is underwritten.
The motivation behind this piece is surely well-meant, but it does not translate, and the staging is awkward and unconvincing. The empty bowl being used as a murder weapon is entirely unbelievable, as are all of the stage punches, and the ending is supremely problematic. The cast make a valiant effort, but much like the clumps of rice that represent the risotto, this piece is unappetising and ill-formed.
By Deborah Klayman
Closure plays at Pleasance, Edinburgh until 29th August 2022.