Attempts On Her Life Production Team

Attempts on Her Life is one of the most enduring and well know plays to emerge out of the radically postmodern, ‘in-yer-face’, Royal Court Upstairs theatre milieu of the 1990s. It’s anticipation of the dread and terror of the early 21st century does not date it - indeed, in situating itself in the future momentum, Attempts On Her Life constantly feels as though it is prophetic in the here and now, not just in it’s in original context. The play itself is spectacular breaking of form and narrative; the characters morphing and stepping in and out of the various degrees of reality, dealing with the horrors of human nature and all maintaining the essential elusiveness of it’s own central premise – who is Anne? The script contains very little guidance as to the staging, leaving the director(s) with a huge array of options whilst needing to maintain the spirit of the script. It is, in short, a very difficult play, one which I personally would be intimidated to stage.

“Robinson and Charles had a clear vison”

However, directors Jasmine Charles and Emma Robinson have by and large done Crimp’s script justice. This production, with its cast on the larger side for Corpus stage, brought out the chaos and pace that Crimp’s division of the play into 17 loosely connected fragments encourages. It felt like Robinson and Charles had a clear vison, particularly in drawing on of the energetic aspects of the text, building the performance into a whirl of people and words. There were some inspired directorial choices – the constant on stage changes of costume were done with great self-awareness, actors slipped from persona to persona clearly but without giving the impression that any of the ‘characters’ were more than fleeting. Additionally, the frenetic littering of the stage with post-its, leaves, discarded clothes as the show went on were all in keeping with the aesthetic of the show cultivated by Charles and Robinson.

This energy was mostly maintained, though on occasion the techniques used to try articulate this energy were not entirely successful. Given that Crimp has left such gaping theatrical gaps for the directors to play in, it felt like the potential to push at the boundaries of form, in term of movement, which the play invites were not always taken; occasionally the movement didn’t quite match the frantic pace of the dialogue, which, overlapping and crashing into itself, demands a physicality to match.


Mountain View

Previewing: Denis and Katya

However, the actors carried the weight of the content of the play wonderfully. They gave an admirable performance as the host of ephemeral characters, especially for a group who are all (bar one) new comers to acting in Cambridge theatre. In such an ensemble piece it is difficult to single out individuals, but the elusive Anne, when she appeared in her various forms, was played very well by Emma Kentridge who had an excellent command of the stage in the long sequences of monologue she had.

Attempts On Her Life is a disturbing, thrilling and elusive piece of theatre which this production did justice to, drawing out its energy, its concern with what makes reality and its problematisation of how a narrative is constructed. Well acted and insightfully directed, this production is a challenging but worthwhile evening at the Corpus Playroom.