As with Doctor Foster, you can tell that a playwright is responsible for the machinations of Trauma. Mike Bartlett likes to focus on the consequences of actions. There are no grand set pieces here. Most scenes have two people face to face, sitting opposite each other across tables, or squaring up to each other in a wild state. There are four sections of tonight’s closer that involve Dan in every one. It’s easy to visualise them all taking place on a small west end stage. At least you wouldn’t get any ad breaks in the theatre.
The first act sees Dan lie his way into Allerton’s home. He deceives Alana with a story about picking up a suit and in a nine minute scene manipulates his way, both into the house and her opinions of her father. After the game playing, Bowker goes dark, stealing her phone and cutting the landline before pulling a knife on her.
Act two find Lisa arriving home to find Jon there. Through the method of a different lie he gets back into the house and gradually twists the metaphorical knife before revealing the actual one. It’s the small details that stand out for Jon as he becomes obsessed with the grandness of their home, taking in the interiors such as expensive light fittings. His hate seems to be deepened by the family’s money and comfort.
The third installment sees Lisa and a not dead Alana face off with Jon before Allerton crashes through the door. “I want you to know how it feels to have your child about to die. A stab wound, under the ribs, left hand side.” An eye for an eye. A daughter for a son. A lot of Jon’s rage is directed at authority and the system he’s been fighting against for years in a working class family but as his weapon presses the neck of Alana the truth comes out. Jon admits to making a mistake that night. Someone does end up in hospital and it’s Dan at the hands and feet of Jon’s snapping point. Other than a few bruises there is no blood shed, no lives lost and refreshingly it feels like a realistic end for a drama.
The final act finds Jon visiting Dan at his hospital bed and the conversation is essentially two stubborn men at loggerheads. Neither press charges because they both want it to be over. In this case the truth is as important as justice and there’s truth in both sides of their arguments. Allerton offers plenty of words but sorry is not one of them. The truth is, none of these people are bad people. Dan was a man lost in grief, carrying out the actions of someone not in their right mind. He won’t take it further because he’s got the only justice he felt capable of achieving – the truth . Making Allerton lose the respect of his family was the game plan all along. Temporarily affecting his career was just an added bonus.
As the “ghost” of Alex takes leave of Dan’s imagination he soon symbolically emerges in Jon’s home. As if the guy hasn’t been stalked enough already. It’s a happy ending of sorts for Dan and Susie in that there’s the promise of future happiness but for Jon, Lisa and Alana the family portrait has been smashed firmly onto the floor by distrust. Last night’s meat in this three part sandwich was average at best but the plot points proved to be necessary in setting up a strong, emotional denouement.