REVIEW: Closure (Fringeelement Entertainment)

Anger management amongst friends

 

 Closure - Fringeelement Entertainment Chicago 2

    
Fringeelement Entertainment presents
  
Closure
   
Written by Jake Perry
Directed by Errol McClendon
at
The Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western (map)
through September 26  |  tickets: $15  |  more info 

Reviewed by Allegra Gallian

Closure tells the story of three friends brought together after five years since the mysterious death of their mutual friend, Maria. Catherine, Dennis and Matt fall back into each other’s lives over a Labor Day weekend as they relive memories, both joyous and painful, and look for a way to deal with the death of Maria and find closure with this whole chapter of their lives.

Performed in the Viaduct Theater’s black box performance space, the set of Closure consists of a classic cabin scene designed by Joseph Budka. Walls are decked with wood paneling, a couch sits center stage and various chairs, photos and books take up the rest of the space. The set gives off a definitive country feel with its simple, yet cozy style. The lighting, designed by Claire Sangster, adds warmth to the space with delicate pink lights illuminating the space.

Closure - Fringeelement Entertainment Chicago The show opens on Catherine (Sarah Brooks) entering the cabin and looking around at old photos. She’s followed by Dennis (Austin Talley), who arrives a few minutes after she does. Talley is immediately a strong force on stage, booming with energy as he enters. Both his actions and his words are lively and animated, and it’s clear that’s he’s very comfortable with his character. Brooks, on the other hand, comes off stiff in the beginning, slightly unsure of her movements, but eventually opens up when she and Talley begin to converse. Talley and Brooks have a strange chemistry between them that never really clicks. It’s a challenge to imagine they were once good friends reuniting.

Dennis and Catherine reminisce and discuss Maria’s death. Catherine then finds out that she was lured to the cabin under false pretenses. Dennis – claiming that Matt, Catherine’s ex-boyfriend, invited them – convinced her to come. Catherine threatens to leave just as Matt (Jake Perry) arrives. Taken aback, Matt questions why his old friends are suddenly in his private cabin. Perry, who is also the show’s writer, has effortlessness with Matt. An autobiographical character it seems in many ways, Perry easily fits into Matt’s skin and fully brings him to life.

Talley and Perry have a better chemistry on stage. Playing off each other’s lines and body movements, these two men are fun to watch together; it’s not a leap to assume they are old buddies. Matt and Dennis fall back into a pattern shared in years before. Brooks also has better chemistry with Perry, and it’s more believable that they used to date.

Perry’s play is generally well-written. Throughout Closure, there are many insightful lines and monologues, causing not only the actors to consider the words being spoken but the audience as well. That being said, in Act I, there is a lot of unnecessary swearing written into the scenes to demonstrate anger. It’s clear by the acting that these characters have pent up anger at both Maria’s death and at each other. The overused expletives detract at times from the action taking place and become a nuisance. The swearing-makes-me-sound-pissed-off is tempered in Act II, and scenes run much smoother. Since this is a show based on anger and loss, a bit more comic relief would be welcome to help ease the audience after particularly dramatic scenes. Additionally, the character’s back-stories are minimally told, and more foundation is needed – Dennis’ story in particular. He is the loosest cannon, with a crazy, wild anger running through him, and I found myself wondering exactly where the roots of that anger come from.

Closure - Fringeelement Entertainment Chicago 3

Whereas the first act drags a bit and at times feels forced, the second acts picks up speed as the actor’s settle more comfortably into their characters. Talley offers up terrific body language as he unleashes his rage on Matt and Catherine. In turn, Perry displays true, raw emotions, allowing the audience to see how damaged Matt is as a human being. Of the three, Catherine could be pushed further. Brooks is talented and surely has the ability to take her character further and really delve into the emotions that drive Catherine to behave and speak in the manner she does.

Closure’s ending offers some unexpected, yet very welcome twists. Although their lives are not sewn up as the production comes to a close, what occurs is quite appropriate and beautifully done.

   
  
Rating: ★★½
   
   

Closure plays at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western Ave. Chicago, IL, Thursdays to Sundays through September 26. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through the Viaduct’s Web site.


Production Personnel

Playwright: Jake Perry

Director: Errol McClendon
Light Design: Claire Sangster
Set Design: Joseph Budka

Featuring: Sarah Brook, Austin Talley and Jake Perry

   
   

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