Wednesday, 5 July 2017

‘Anatomy of a Suicide’ – Royal Court Theatre – Tuesday 4th July 2017

(Rated 10/5 ) 

My ‘section’ of this review is highly likely to be very personal – not quite sure what will come out yet – will see in a few minutes – so before I go ahead I wanted to share a less personal but certainly ‘bang on’ review – shared by my lovely friend who booked us to see this production. From Time Out…
“***** Birch has crafted a rich, haunting, technically dazzling script. It is gut-level, subliminal: a depiction of tragedy as a disease that swims silently through the bloodstream.”
Warning: the following contains spoilers and personal processing!
Now my turn… I had no expectations on this at all – aside from an intriguing and highly suggestive of darkness and trauma title – such things always fascinate me I’ll admit – I’d read nothing at all about it and knew nothing – not even the basic premise. So I learned all exactly as the script and actors taught me performing from start to finish. Now I don’t know what to write. I’m still struggling to find words, which kind of reflects the single word responses from Carol (Hattie Morahan) – the eldest of the three generations of women. The depth of emotion and trauma and lack of emotion as a result of trauma is palpable – like a penetrating vibe from actors to audience – there’s no hiding from it even though in her emotional shut-down – Bonnie (Adelle Leonce) – the youngest of the three - attempts to do so. And in between them we have Anna (Kate O’Flynn) – daughter of Carol, mostly absent-mother to Bonnie – whose effervescence and hyper-expressiveness are a stark contrast to the other two. All three actors are absolutely outstandingly brilliant!! I fell completely and utterly in love with them and they all had my fullest empathy also. The supporting cast were all equally as good – not just acting a multitude of characters but also moving scenery around and undressing/dressing the three leads onstage between scenes - An exceptionally good ensemble-piece. As actors say they can’t be good without good writing and this is probably the most-skilful, accomplished, sensitive, natural, deep yet concise, character-rich writing in a play I have ever encountered. Alice Birch is such a talent! I’m so envious! In this play she is writing three scenes at any one time – taking place on the same stage at the same time – linking them up beautifully and timing all the characters words to absolute perfection. It’s extraordinary! The timing of delivery had to be spot on and was. The actors were so in synch. In some ways it reminds me of one of my favourite films ‘The Hours’ – again three women in three different time periods – but the scenes were separated and the characters connected but unrelated. This play is structured so that the audience can watch all three scenes simultaneously without losing anything, which is pretty amazing!
And here comes the personal. This play resonated in so many ways with my own life experience – mind- and heart-blowing. I was witnessing this with goosebumps on my goosebumps and my eyes welling up with tears. Carol and Anna between them embody aspects of my own mother. Carol holds the quiet brooding drowning-in-despair aspect of Mum whilst Anna the hyperactive, talkative, edgy and ‘fun’/funny parts of her personality. Both characters actually so beautiful and tantalising - irresistibly attractive. As the title suggests suicide is forever casting a shadow over them/us and it’s a question of when not if. For me it was always a question of if with Mum. And I identified so much with Bonnie’s subdued, reserved and withdrawn character… who becomes a doctor(caring professional), who struggles in relationships with fellow human beings, who seems more devastated by the loss of her companion rabbit but who finds it so difficult to let go of the family home in which so many of her grandmother and mother’s dramas took place. Bonnie felt like an unhealed me. Yet what she expresses towards the end of the play struck the deepest most profound chord with me. She is determined there should be no possibility of having children – “I have to know – biologically, completely, with absolute certainty that I am where it ends… That it goes no further, no deeper, no longer… That it finishes here.” And then we are faced with the ultimate question at the very end of the play… can Bonnie also let go of it all emotionally and psychologically and let the house of the stage go and move on… Can she live her life? Can she finally engage?
This is the best play/production I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m not saying it is the absolute most-accomplished but with all its personal resonances it wins out. And happily with no big names in it! But an absolute wealth of talent! Yet again – as with my most recent review – I am writing this towards the end of the run and it is sold out. The Royal Court Theatre with its relatively small, intimate space is perfect for this play, though I do hope it transfers somewhere else so others get an opportunity to witness it. I had to have the script which was only £3. We ate in the Bar/Kitchen beforehand and I had a delicious gazpacho and we shared chips with mayonnaise, salad, Coronas and passion fruit crème brulee and tasty truffles – highly recommended. I happen to know the risotto is also very tasty ;)
Excellent Emotionally-Charged, Extremely Personally-Developing Experience!

Anatomy of a Suicide – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017