By Tom Scanlon

Ever wonder why Patrick Marber's "Closer," a hit in its 1999 London opening, later in New York and elsewhere, never made it to the big houses of Seattle?

It could be that the big theatres lack the nerve to risk offendinf their older audiences with this extremely aggressive, sexually explicit love triangle.

Or it could simply be that they have taste.

"Closer" is really not a very good play, thick with implausible meetings and other contrivances. Though his plotting - and resolution - is decidely inexpert, Marber's dialogue is deft; his characters speak like real people, especially in breakup situations, when they go for the emotional kill.

Perhaps the real genius of this Marber play is that it allows the actors the chance to make it seem more important than it really is. And the ReAct cast does just that, with tough, bold acting making the characters seem very real and their situations life-or-death.

I didn't believe the play for a moment, bit I believed that each of the four main actors WAS the Character he or she was playing

Scott Plusquellec plays an obituary writer who leaves his original girlfriend (unseen) for a beautiful, enigmatic young "waif," then, after writing a novel based on the life of the street girl, ditches her for a beautiful older (than the waif) photographer. The photographer leaves her new-husband, a doctor, for the writer; the emotionally wrecked doctor stumble on to the waif, and starts a relationship with her. But the waif is still stuck on the writer, and the doctor on the photographer.

Plusquellec was part of Book-It's crackerjack "Combat Zone" and Empty Space's beautiful "Laramie Project"; he takes his acting to new levels here, as his character is all over th place, going from emotionally smug to a complete basket case. Angela DiMarco is wonderful as the waif, doing some exceptional work when her character lands in a strip club (the "stripping" is emotional, not physical). Shawn Yates has the less flashy role of the photogapher; she also plays her role to near perfection, particularly good at showing her guilt-wracked new wife about to leave her husband. And Gordon Hendrickson, another ReAct frequent player, hits all the right notes in a very difficult role as the doctor who loses battles, but wins the was...Or does he?

The story is a crick, but the directing by ReAct artistic director David Hsieh is sharp and smart, crisp and clean; it would be a very easy trap fro a director to add sleasy visuals, but Hsieh wisely avoids that one, directing with a very light, almost elegant touch and letting the writer do all the verbal sordidness. Which, by the way he does very, very well. And, if you can stomach the implausible nature and a certain smugness in the writing tone, watching this talented cast rip into the emotional terrors is worth the price of admission.

Or stay home and happily miss a woman comparing the taste of her two lovers'...


ReAct at the Bathhouse
closes Sept 1
Fri.-Sat., 8p.m.;
Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.
364-3283 Bathhouse Theatre,

© 2002 Reprinted with permission by ReAct.

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