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Close (Susan Elkin reviews)


By Kit Brookman

Landor Space

Six teenagers are, in very different ways, horrified, fascinated, excited and frightened because a classmate has disappeared. She is never named but simply referred to as “The New Girl”. Kit Brookman’s 75-minute play explores their reactions and interrelations mostly though scenes set in the near-derelict lavatory block they use as a meeting place. Here we see these youngsters talking in twos and threes. Not until the end of the play do all six of them come together.

Most of the young company are East 15 trained so there’s a strong sense of a well bonded cast – only Madison Clare who makes a good fist of playing Hellie, a thoughtful, intelligent rather attractive character, comes from a different background (LAMDA). The acting is generally pretty strong, as it needs to be given the rather unforgiving televisual focus and size of the Landor Space. Faces and bodies are very close to the audience.

William Shackleton (who is still in training at East 15 on the BA Acting Course) is outstanding. His character, Olive, is quiet and “weird” as several other characters comment. Shackleton does a lot of intent listening, his eyes darting. Tiny movements indicate his silent reaction. It’s an impressive performance.

Carissa Wagner makes a good fist of the manic, monstrous Lauren glittering with excitement at the thought that something nasty has probably happened to the missing girl. There’s nice work from Gabriella Leon as the smaller, often troubled Maddie.

George Lock’s Wes is repeatedly lost in sexual fantasy and it’s pretty believable. And Jack Ayres is pleasing as the more cerebral Robin who really did have something going with the missing girl unlike several of the others who would like to have done or pretend that they did.

Adeptly directed by Melissa Chambers, Close presents an evergreen situation – teenagers do disappear – made original by fresh thoughts and ideas. And despite the seriousness of the subject, in places it’s laugh-aloud funny. The ending, however, is a bit flat and tentative almost as if the playwright couldn’t quite decide how best to conclude.

First published by Sardines:

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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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