BRECHT IN PRACTICE
Use of music

In order to historicize the production, music was used to give a sense of a different time. However, the chosen songs, all number-one hits in the British charts in the mid-1990s, also had additional functions that, on occasion, echoed Brecht’s use of music in his plays and productions. They also served to provide musical cover for scene changes, hence the different lengths of track.

 

Pre-set Music for the Entering Audience

The Colt Brothers: In 1992

This song from 1932, discovered in an antique shop shortly before rehearsals started, is an ironic gaze into the future: what the Colt Brothers prophesize clearly differs from what the audience will see in Closer. The hisses and crackles of the original vinyl help historicize the source.

 

Scene One

2 Unlimited: No Limit

 

This tune introduces the theme of no limits to personal satisfaction that runs through the production as a whole. The length of the clip allowed Alice to steal Dan’s sandwich, as directed at the opening of the play, and the slow-down at its conclusion marked Dan’s return and discovery of the theft.

 

Scene Two

Wet Wet Wet: Love is All Around

 

An ironic note to open a scene in which Dan dumps Alice for Anna.

 

Scene Three

Baby D: Let Me Be Your Fantasy

 

Introduces the theme of virtual fantasies on the internet.
Scene Four

 

The Outhere Brothers: Don’t Stop Wiggle Wiggle

 

More a bit of fun than anything else: it points to the sexual tension of the scene with a playful nod to the aquarium setting (‘wiggle, wiggle’).

 

Scene Five

Blur: Girls and Boys

 

The first scene to feature all four figures, intertwined in various emotional states, used Blur’s own ironic take on ‘love’ as its cue.

 

Scene Six

The Fugees: Killing Me Softly

 

Here the music foreshadows the action: Dan finishes with Alice for Anna; Anna finishes with Larry for Dan.

 

Scene Seven

Gina G: Oh Ah, Just a Little Bit

 

An energetic curtain-raiser to the second half, setting the scene in the lap-dancing club before things sour.

 

Scene Eight

The Spice Girls: Say You’ll Be There

 

Another ironic clip, contrasting with the infidelity and mutual suspicion that runs through the scene.

 

Scene Nine

The Prodigy: Firestarter

 

A musical stab that asks the question as to who the ‘firestarter’ is in this scene.

 

Scene Ten

Robson and Jerome: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

 

Another ironic introduction: a cheesy cover version opens a scene that plays off Dan’s self-pity against Larry’s cold pursuit of his own amorous aims

 

Scene Eleven

 

White Town: Your Woman

 

The most Brechtian song of the production. The male vocalist sings a female part while using a sample of the 1932 popular song, ‘My Woman’. The lyrics in this clip pre-empt Alice’s decision to leave Dan at the end of the scene, hopefully puncturing or at least querying the happiness that fills the first half of the scene.

 

Scene Twelve

Puff Daddy and Faith Evans: I’ll be Missing You

 

A melancholic tune to reflect the melancholic end of the play: Anna and Larry are no longer together; Alice has died in a road accident; and Dan is left alone. Perhaps a Brechtian production would have contrasted the mood of these egotists with something more upbeat, but it seemed appropriate to acknowledge the death of the most sympathetic figure.

 


BRECHT IN PRACTICE - Copyright 2017 © Prof. David Barnett | All Rights Reserved

David Barnett
Professor of Theatre
University of York

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