Saturday, December 9

Closure – HOME Manchester

Alex (Conor Burns) and Laura (Nina Holland-Smith) arrive at a dinner party hosted by Laura’s friend Mia (Faye Draper) where they soon discover that all is not as it seems, in fact they may not even leave alive…

Written by Draper and directed by Maz Hedgehog, Closure takes black comedy into its darkest corner as it unravels women’s rights, wrongs, and feminine rage. Understandably there is a trigger warning as the piece contains scenes of violence and drowning, strong language, and distressing themes including reference to rape and sexual assault.

First and foremost, this is a play dealing with subjects that are far too often glossed over or avoided so I wholeheartedly welcome it for that alone. It does however need longer than the scheduled hour because the set-up was somewhat hurried and with the absence of a natural chemistry between Burns and Holland Smith – or not enough time for them to establish a believable one – its beginning felt a little forced with the silences speaking volumes rather than reinforcing suspense, and as a somewhat larger than life Draper arrived well and truly front and centre, there were some inconsistencies between what was unfolding and the backstory we were provided with.

The regular Shakesperean references didn’t overly endear the characters to me – it all seemed a little too clever – but perhaps that was the point and intended to throw me off the scent? The soundbites and occasional statistical reference did upset the natural ebb and flow of conversations and might be more powerful if delivered as a voiceover at the end as food for thought for the audience to leave with.

The ensuing dramatic turn is well thought through and intelligently written and is further reinforced by the subsequent twist. A sublime performance from Burns wrings every nuance out of his character, and his interplay with Draper certainly left the audience unsure initially as to whom they should be rooting for.

Other than achieving some form of temporary relief, can anyone ever get meaningful closure? I’d like to hope so but in reality I’m (sadly) less convinced: a High Court Judge once informed me that there was no such thing as justice, merely facts and our interpretation of them.

It went a little ‘Thelma and Louise’ towards the end and as much as I enjoy black comedy, the closing track did neither of them any favours: they certainly deserve something better, whatever ‘better’ is.

This is an important play and one I would encourage people to go and see; whilst the run at HOME may be coming to an end, I am confident it will be performed again – it should and must be. Its strength lies in its resonance with victims whose voice is often dismissed or never heard; it also carries its message powerfully enough to detract wannabe predators from pursuing such behaviour.

Closure is performed as part of the PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME Manchester, its annual celebration of North West creative talent. Further details

Ink and Curtain was established in 2021 by Hedgehog and Draper. Their work is steeped in queer feminisms, mixing poetry and theatre to bridge the gap between the classical and contemporary. Further details

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 27th January 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★