Attempts on Her Life
Attempts on Her Life is in many ways both the best and the worst play for a young theatre director to choose. With seventeen diverse scenes and little authorial guidance, it offers a showcase for talent but also a stream of possible pitfalls.
This production is Anne Tipton's "prize" for winning the 2004 James Menzies-Kitchin Memorial Trust Award as Best Young Director. She follows in the footsteps of Mark Rosenblatt and Thea Sharrock, amongst others.
The original production, at the Royal Court, was multi-media and featured a large cast. By contrast, a version on last year's Edinburgh Fringe managed to work wonders on a minimal budget with a cast of only three. Anne Tipton has six actors and eschews almost all props on a very wide set.
After a voice-mail prologue, the first few sketches have a unity but lack variety as all seem to derive from a stream of similarly pretentious characters.
The ubiquitous Every(wo)man, Annie, only begins to take on a life of her own as she emerges from a war zone, becomes a car, a terrorist and a child porn star.
The ensemble maintain the pace but can lack colour. There is generally an overly-earnest feel that is not lightened enough, although a Newsnight Review-style debate on suicide as art, is memorable for a great impression of Tom Paulin by Martin Ritchie.
Anne Tipton doesn't always seem to trust Martin Crimp's admittedly difficult script. On occasions her directorial voice intrudes but at other times, especially in the jolly songThe Girl Next Door she get things absolutely right.
This collage about Annie, someone who could be any one of us, represents "the anxiety of our Century" in a variety of inventive ways and is always worth seeing. It is not a complete success but sets Anne Tipton off on her professional career with enough glimpses of invention to promise a good future for her.