A computer screen is open in the rehearsal space; London Fuck is splashed across a provocatively posed woman. "This isn't my personal computer," Charlie says with a grin as he catches my reaction, "it's for the play." The play he's mentioning is Blue Lane production’s Closer by Patrick Marber, directed by the aforementioned Charles (Charlie as he’s affectionately called by his cast and crew) Mayer, and it’s sure to be a hit.
The cast and crew of Blue Lane Productions, Closer, by Patrick Marber
If the name rings a bell, it could be a result of the Tony Award it received for best play in 1999, or perhaps the movie that starred big time Hollywood hitters Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Jude Law. Yet Charlie assures that the play is really meant for the stage. “The play originated on stage. It’s full of bitter truth and reality, but films need to be beautiful and it comes off as schmaltzy. You can’t quite capture the bitter home truths. This story belongs on stage, as you will see.”
Charles Mayer (Blue Lane co-founder) directs Jim Bennett (Blue Lane co-founder) and Deji Odunlami in a scene
Charlie decided that Closer would be his next project while he was on honeymoon with his wife, Cate. He first read the play in college, years before the movie came out, but revisited it while lounging poolside in a state of newlywed bliss. “I remember thinking, ‘my life is fantastic,’ as I read this grave play with scenes of passion and it’s moments of volcanic eruption.”
The play revolves around the relationships between four characters that are either coming together, breaking up or partner swapping. While I am trying to gather the more salacious details regarding the rehearsal process, Jim Bennett (Blue Lane co-founder) who plays Dan, reminds me that the love scenes aren’t about watching a live sex show, “the kissing scenes are plotted like a fight scene, the kiss tells a story,” Jim asserts. To which Deji Odunlami (Larry) adds, “there’s a lot of trust, we all feel very safe, so it never feels awkward.”
Cast members Deji Odunlami (Larry) and Isobel Yeung (Alice) in rehearsal
The play’s title creates a level of ambiguity similar to the relationships that are portrayed; closer to what? For the cast, that answer is the truth. Isobel Yeung (Alice) claims that while her character might have secrets, she “doesn’t deceive in her relationships. We all have masks that allow us to be truthful.” Dan adds, “when people say and do things, they don’t see it as a deception, they see a situation where it’s justified.” Emilie Ohana (Anna) likens their performances to a dance. “We all get to dance with each other. Some dances are dramatic, others are fun or happy or moving, but it’s a group dance about how we all get transformed.”
Blue Lane’s production of Closer will offers audiences live theatre and more; it is an entire evening immersed in the world of art. The team expresses great gratitude to leading arts supporters in Shanghai, The Foundry art gallery that loaned them their rehearsal space and the “sweet guys” at Strictly Furniture who lent them their performance space, which is a converted warehouse. The striped down set lets the actors take center stage. With this talented cast and crew at the helm, we’ll all want to get closer.
'Closer' runs from June 7th until June 19th excluding the 10th, 11th, and 12th. Doors open at 7pm, curtains up at 8pm. Tickets are RMB180 presale, and RMB200 at the door.
Catch the show at No. 8, building 3, 601 Waima lu. Near Zhuhang matou lu. 601 外马路，沃弗商业投资管理有限公司
Contact email@example.com for details.
WORDS: KATE ROBARDS