As I settled in to watch an early stage review of Closets! - I had requested an opportunity to view the show early, so I could publish this review before the show opened - my first exposure to the play’s farcical energy was the cast getting into costume. Most of the cast looked dapper thanks to the play’s pre-wedding setting, but a few glimpses of orange jumpsuits, maroon cummerbund/ cape combos and more than one pigeon promised fun soon to come.
Closets! was fun in the first act, with most of the jokes setting up and delivering within the same scene, with some light lambasting of politics and social trends - most of the attendees will be able to see themselves in at least one character, who will surely be roasted because they all were - but the real fun for me began in the second act. The first act establishes characters and moves the plot along, meaning more exposition has to share time with the comedy set-ups and payoffs. Then, once the second act rolls around, all of Chekhov’s carefully set up metaphorical guns start firing, and the play shines as it rewards attentive viewers with punchline after punchline, paying off all that early-show preparation. The humor has a little more spice to it than the team’s previous production, Montezuma and the Petticoats, and there are exponentially more punches to the face, so come prepared for more lighthearted and casual comedy.
The actors certainly get credit for the energy they brought to the show; Closets! is a farce, which means lots of big energy, bombastic deliveries and plenty of physical comedy and boy does the cast sell it! I could tell the cast and crew were having fun; since I was attending an early rehearsal, there were a few beats where a prop wasn’t where it should be, or someone searched for a line not yet 100 percent mastered, and in those moments an actor’s true feelings toward a production shine through. In this case, these moments were always met with laughs, added-on improvised jokes and, in one instance, a smile around an ice-pack and a swollen lip. The show must go on, after all!
And here’s the thing, dear reader: shows generally get better given time to rehearse. I was already having a good time watching Closets! before the incredibly important final few days of dress rehearsals and tech refinements. That’s a very, very good sign for anyone looking to attend the show after those culminating dress rehearsals. I tip my hat to the cast and crew of Closets! for many hours put in making this production happen with such aplomb.
The show opens at Redstone Theater on Friday, June 23, at 7 p.m., then runs each night through June 30, with follow up showings on July 1 and 3. That’s seven showings in all - plenty of nights to accommodate a schedule, but those seats fill fast at Redstone. Tickets can be purchased at Redstonetheater.com for $18 a head.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have said “closets” so many times it has stopped sounding like a real word - pardon me while I reset my brain before the show begins!