After seeing Closer in the cinema I decided I had to experience the play, though sadly only as an expensive paperback bought at Foyles.
The film's ending is somehow more satisfying; and that song is so beautiful. Marber hasn't really changed anything - he has simply brought the curtain down earlier. Yet Alice is a character that leaves you in sad, wistful contemplation in the darkness whether or not she actually dies.
In the play Dan relates how Alice chose to love him because he cut his crusts, yet reveals that he did so only on that day because they had partly come off by themselves.
Larry's outburst at Anna, "Now fuck off and die you fucked up slag", one of the harshest in the script, is softened in the play by virtue of being the set up for her to repeat it back to him later on.
There are some great lines which I can't recall from the film: "You're a man, you'd come if the tooth fairy winked at you" and "you're old enough to be her ancestor" - the latter probably because the age differences are not entirely so pronounced in the film thanks to the casting.
Natalie Portman is a great actress and is compelling to watch in Mike Nichols' film, but somehow she isn't quite up to the insincerity and the dirtyness that the role of Jane Jones the secretive stripper requires.
The social isolation of the characters is actually less pronounced in the play - Larry and Anna's family are mentioned and Dan's girlfriend Ruth plays a role as a reported offstage personage. The intricate network of signs and coincidences in the meshed-up lives of these four people are far more obvious too.