Attempts On Her Life

Tue 24th – Sat 28th February 2015

reviews

Eli Keren

at 21:49 on 24th Feb 2015

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Attempts On Her Life is a bold choice for any director, and Tania Clarke delivers superbly. It was chaotic but never messy, absurd but never cringeworthy, original without being pretentious, and though I spent a lot of the play not quite knowing what I was watching, it was utterly engaging from start to finish.

The play is a series of loosely connected scenes that share a common theme – the description of the ever-absent ‘Anne’, be she deranged mother, terrorist, lover, murderer or, in one memorable scene, a new model of car. The lack of continuity and absence of plot or consistent character would be a death knell to most plays, but Attempts On Her Life inexplicably seems not to need them. In fact, through changes in costume and accents, this production dispelled even the faintest notation that the character played by this actor in that scene may bear some link to the character played by that same actor in this different scene.

Rather than succumbing to the script’s inherent difficulties, the production capitalised on them. Even sharp changes of tone within a continuous scene didn’t feel out-of-place or forced. The inventive delivery and playful, rapidfire characterisation had me grinning continuously for the first 2/3 of this play. The production took a darker, more sombre tone towards the end before pulling back and returning to its more lighthearted and unsettlingly comic origins. At first I struggled to find my laughter again after hearing all about one particular Anne’s suicide by drowning, but a particularly uproarious scene featuring an interview with a young pornographer put those fears to rest.

The cast had no noticeable weak link, but some unmissably strong players. Avigail Tlalim managed to consistently remain just the right amount of manic, Chris Born handled his stark tonal shifts with confidence, and Lucy Moss was a feat of deadpan brilliance. Credit is due also to Eleanor Mack, the team’s movement coach, whose choreography leant this production an atmosphere which was bizarre in all the right ways.

No show is without criticism, and there were scenes that dragged on a little. A few scenes simply didn’t work for me. One short scene that focused around a tomato plant seemed to contribute very little to the production. However, with so many scenes packed into this play, no one person was ever going to be entirely engrossed by every single one. Most scene changes were swift but a couple of the longer ones were slightly clunky and disengaging. The strobe lighting, too, was used for longer than I was comfortable with, and I quickly went from appreciating the effect of the flashing lights to feeling a little sick and having to cover my eyes. I stress, however, that these criticisms are mild. The production was, for me, an undeniable success.

At my time of writing, you have four opportunities left to see this production. I strongly suggest you make use of them. Attempts On Her Life will be a divisive play. Some people will leave it enthralled as I did, others will leave simply confused, but I guarantee you that nobody will be able to say they were not entertained.

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