Provocative Studio 58 play challenges viewers’ perceptions of theatre

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Stephanie Iszak and Tim W. Carlson in Attempts on her Life Photo by: Emily Cooper
Stephanie Iszak and Tim W. Carlson in Attempts on her Life. Photo: Emily Cooper

By removing the elements that are central to any story – plot and characters – Martin Crimp’s play Attempts on Her Life forces audience members not to passively receive the story, but to take meaning from the fragments of information.

Seventeen unrelated scenarios have their own spin on Anne, the main character, who changes form throughout the play.

In true postmodern fashion, interpretations of Anne range from a flashy new car, to a terrorist, to the subject of an art exhibit.

Creativity reigns in this unorthodox play

In the script, no line is assigned to any specific character.

Director Katrina Dunn used profound creative freedom to create a powerful theatrical experience.

“It’s a political statement to take more control of how you receive messages,” she said.

Scenographer David Roberts’ set, which includes a closed-circuit holding pen for the audience, abrasively conveys Crimpʼs message that media constructs our reality.

With no character-specific lines, when the same actor appears in different scenes wearing the same costume, we assume that it is the same character – but itʼs not.

Or is it?

In this we catch ourselves imposing meaning on the play, while questioning our understanding. Got you thinking yet?

That Dunnʼs rendition is at times hilarious, disturbing, infuriating and always perplexing is a good forecast for the 2012 cast of Studio 58.

Choreographed ensemble pieces stand out 

Some scenes were more memorable than others. Group ensemble pieces shone brightest, thanks to the choreography of Kathleen McDonagh.

Alex Strong and Stephanie Iszak gave standout performances.

For those who fancy post-modern literature or contemporary theatre, this play is essential viewing.

Not your thing? Media, sexuality, language and form will hotwire your consciousness and you will be better for it.

Bring few preconceptions. Leave with a new perspective.

Reported by Annie Ellison

In this podcast, Voice reporter Steven Chua and Studio 58 Art Director Kathryn Shaw discuss the play Attempts on her Life.

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