Ever since I saw the 2004 film Closer and found out it was based on a play, I had wanted to read the original work. Now that I have pushed myself to request more books from the Houston Public Libraries, I am making it a point to order plays like this that are generally not seen in bookstores. I went ahead and also requested Doubt, another play that was made into a critically acclaimed 2008 film. Smart move, me!
Patrik Marber’s Closer met every expectation I had of it. Although having seen the movie adaptation before can be a bit of a dampener because you see the actors uttering the dialogs in your head. But Marber’s words and world pervade that barrier and allow you to imagine these characters for yourself. Made up of four characters only, the play is about love and lust in contemporary society. Dan, Alice, Anna, and Larry meet each other at various times over the span of four years, and although they have ample opportunity to create a life with each other, manage to lose the love they have. Marber, with his witty, tongue-in-cheek, and heartbreaking words, portrays these hapless characters that we feel anger and sympathy for simultaneously. All four characters are equally messed up, yet, you might find one that you identify with the most.
Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley, has four characters too. But unlike Closer, Doubt is driven by the performance of the characters rather than the dialog itself. That’s not to say that the play is less intelligently written, but it is definitely an actor’s play that is better seen than read. Set in a Catholic school in the 60s, the holy and virtuous world of Doubt could not be more different than the lust-filled, hedonistic world of Closer. And still, both plays deal masterfully with the weaknesses of the human mind and body. Both plays show in their own deft ways, how deeply we as humans are capable of hurting and destroying one another.
While I would always recommend reading the original text, but both movie adaptations are also worth your while.
As a closing note, here’s one of the best author bios I have ever read. I think I just fell in love with Shanley.