An Intriguing Experiment
by Valerie Cardinal
Who is Anne? Is she a porn star, mother, suicidal artist, terrorist, girl next door, new car?
These are the questions that Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life never answers. Attempts on Her Life is by no means a play in the traditional sense, as it has no plot or central characters. The performance is composed of 16 vignettes about Anne, a character with many incarnations who is never present on the stage. In fact, Anne is less of a character and more of a concept.
...the performers seem to almost jump up and down with excitement...
Attempts on Her Life was written as an experiment; Martin Crimp’s script includes no assigned dialogue and no indication of how many actors should be involved. Therefore, director Laura Freitag had a lot of room to play around. Since no real thread connects the scenes, Attempts on Her Life can be a little difficult to follow. As the production goes on, who or what Anne is becomes blurrier instead of clearer. However, the enthusiastic performance of the ensemble of six actors shows that they truly collaborated with the director to include elements of their own experiences and personalities in the production.
From the moment audience members take off their boots to enter the small theatre, the performers seem to almost jump up and down with excitement. Their energy translates into strong, compelling performances, even though Attempts on Her Life doesn’t have a central character you can identify and empathise with. The set and costumes are minimalistic, with two wooden boxes standing in for any set piece necessary. The changing characters of each scene are indicated by costume items and props thrown over neutral black.
Attempts on Her Life is funny, odd, confusing, at times sad and makes for a very interesting theatrical experience. Even though the cast are given no definite characters, they manage to pull off an engaging performance.
Attempts on Her Life is part of the Tuesday Night Café series at McGill and runs to February 12 (TNC Facebook Page)
Running time: 90 minutes