The minute we lay eyes on Alice, which is the minute Patrick Marber’s play “Closer” begins, one thought comes to mind: She’s trouble. But Dan, who rescues Alice after she’s been hit crossing the road, is thinking something else: She’s intriguing. Then the trouble begins.
The hard-edged “Closer” is a love story – actually four love stories, once you count all the swapping — more intimate, more intense and more raw than most. Its production by Luna Theater Company isthoughtfully directed by the company’s leader, Gregory Scott Campbell, who stages the play’s labyrinth of couplings, uncouplings and recouplings to maximum effect — particularly when the relationships are not going well. Which is often.
Wandering eyes and other wandering body parts, they’ll do it every time. No sooner is Dan, a journalist assigned to obits, involved with the mysterious and troubled Alice, a sometimes stripper, than he’s chasing after an alluring photographer named Anna. In a particularly well-done scene adorned by Michael Long’s video design, Dan is on a computer sex site, playing a practical joke on a stranger who becomes the fourth character in this love quadrangle.
“Closer” is passionate, occasionally loud and increasingly coarse in its progression — it has a ton of heavy sex talk and characters occasionally question their partners about the intimate details of infidelities. But the big payoff is its well-crafted arc, lively and unpredictable as it traces the comings and goings of these four people over four years.
The four actors — Gina Martino, Sam Henderson, Kirsten Quinn and Joshua L. Browns — build their characters so clearly, you can see them thinking through their various predicaments even as they react to one another.
They’re also good enough to overcome some pedestrian exchanges like “What’re you so sad about?” “Life.” in order to explore the play’s gradually emerging theme: whether it’s best to know the whole truth in every situation. “Closer” demonstrates the complexity of that question in a well-executed journey.
“Closer” runs through Feb. 7 at Luna Theater Company’s stage, to the rear of the Church of the Crucifixion, on Eighth Street between South and Bainbridge Streets.