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Closer – Love Bites, Love Bleeds At Brisbane's La Boite Theatre

'Closer' - Image © David Kelly
Senior Writer.
A seasoned all-rounder music writer and storyteller with a specialised interest in the history of rock.

Set your relationship status to ‘it’s complicated’ as La Boite Theatre in Brisbane kicks off its 2024 mainstage season with ‘Closer’, Patrick Marber’s classic cult tale of love, lust, betrayal and desire.

The story of ‘Closer’ centres on the intimately entangled lives of four people – Alice, Anna, Dan and Larry – and the complex personal relationships they share over the course of several years.

The production is directed by La Boite Artistic Director Courtney Stewart and features an all-star Queensland cast that includes Sophia Emberson-Bain as the out-of-towner Alice.

“‘Closer’ is lots of love stories between four people. It’s an honest portrayal of human interactions,” Sophia says.

“The other thing audiences will like is that the characters are so well-written that you really will love them, and you will hate them at times, but you will understand and relate to what they are going through.”

Navigating the fine line between love and hate, ‘Closer’ explores the intricacies of adult relationships and the inherently self-destructive nature of humans when it comes to matters of the heart.

“You know when you tell a lie that you want to believe?” Sophia says.

“It’s not necessarily a lie that’s meant to hurt or deceive, you just sometimes get trapped into that realm. The play raises so many questions about morality also. Like, if you were separated, is it cheating if you connect with someone? If you break up, can you hook up with your former partner’s lover? The ethics and morality of love and the pursuit of love.”

The play also stars Kevin Spink, Colin Smith, and Anna McGahan, who currently performs alongside Sophia in the ABC show ‘Darby And Joan’. Sophia says she became enamoured with the character of Alice following an impromptu reading of the play.

“It’s simple but complicated, in the sense that Alice just wants to be loved and it’s complicated because love is complicated,” she laughs.

“We all want to be loved and we all want to find that person, so it’s that interesting journey. It’s also about how characters manipulate the truth to serve their own desires or to protect themselves from pain.”

Since its stage premiere in 1997 at the Royal National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in London, ‘Closer’ has become an enduring and critically acclaimed piece of contemporary theatre. In 2004, it was adapted into a motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen.

Having grown up in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, Sophia brings a fresh new voice to the role of Alice with her experiences as a woman of colour.

“From my perspective it’s empowering and significant that Courtney has cast a Black woman to portray the role of Alice,” she says.

“Previous casting choices have predominantly, throughout the years, featured white actors in all of the roles. But showcasing diverse experiences, like those of Black women, adds depth and authenticity to the narrative by highlighting that human relationships are universal experiences transcending race. It emphasises the importance of representation and inclusivity on stage, how we all love – it doesn’t matter what you look like.”

‘Closer’ plays La Boite Theatre (Brisbane) 4-20 April.

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