Closer, GroundUp Theatre, at the Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts. Telling the truth is the ultimate manipulative device: people supposedly want to hear the truth, yet it’s often brutal and stultifying. Truth is power, and power is absolutely central to Closer, a taut investigation of attraction among four young British professionals. Patrick Marber’s unabashedly pornographic play is designed to make you identify with all the fucking, cheating, and backstabbing–and to make you feel both ashamed and exhilarated for doing so. But this sensational work has been rendered fit for mass consumption by the likes of Jerry Springer: all that separates it from most of the smut we’re exposed to on a daily basis is a more artful approach.

Marber does a smashing job of cutting to the essence of desire, and GroundUp Theatre has responded with a production as lean and hungry as the script. Matthew Haddock’s set design–two large wooden frames that fold in or out to open and close the space–adds to the production’s intimacy, and Molly J. Neylan’s elemental lighting gracefully shifts the emotional tone using not many more than a dozen lights. Director Sabrina Lloyd and her cast are fearless in their approach–they’ve taken apparently self-possessed characters and shaped them into fragile creatures. It’s a move that runs counter to the play’s logic, but Marber’s impassive script feels more authentic for their efforts.