Pros: Andrew Goddard is brilliant in the role of TV producer Jason.
Cons: The ending is stilted.
In 1968 the Theatres Act abolished censorship in Britain, opening the doors to a brighter future where freedom of speech has become a fundamental right. Within this context, liberated women like Grace (Gilly Daniels) established themselves as outgoing and inspirational film and TV stars, promoting a strong and outspoken female image. A bolder appearance, as well as sexual independence, identify many of the ladies who raised to fame in the following decades.
Sharing her birthday with the Queen, Grace is well past the peak of her career when she is approached by a TV channel looking to produce a fly-on-the-wall documentary about her. Grace’s past glories, as well as her ageless dreams and sexual fantasies, are to feature in the clips and, for this reason, she’s set up on a date with a much younger man.
Young camera operator Lauren (Sophie Delora-Jones) is in charge of the filming, but the age-gap with her subject ignites a collision. Between them stands a ruthless and almost cartoonish producer (Andrew Goddard), whose only intent is to make a substantial profit. Goddard absolutely nails the role, bringing it to life with a jewel box of expressions and attitudes. His performance shines throughout the hour-long show, making the trip to the theatre worthwhile, despite a stilted and uncertain ending.
As stated beforehand by its writer and director Emilia Teglia, Close Up is still in its R&D phase, and, as a result, its shape is far from being definitive. It is unusual for a company to invite reviewers in for a work that is still in development and, personally, this was a first.
On the programme, the creatives highlight the media manipulation of truth as the central topic of this piece, although, in its current state this becomes increasingly harder to focus on. In the second half the plot collapses, introducing audience interaction as an unnecessary diversion, and rushing towards a flimsy dramatic ending.
The use of pre-recorded clips, as well as live broadcast is an interesting trend that recurs every so often on the London stage. This, indeed, adds an effect of immediacy but cannot replace nor revive a static directorial style that shies away from proper theatrical body language.
Goddard’s performance being the most successful element of this production, I was delighted for the involvement of Daniels, who belongs to an age category seldom represented in fringe theatre. However, in order to mount a mature play, the creative team has to narrow their scope and make a clearer decision on what message they wish to send out with the ending of their drama.
Written and Directed by: Emilia Teglia
Producer: Odd Eyes Theatre
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.