Phil’s Review – Attempts on her Life

Saturday 7 April 2007

Ok, so this is a bit of a con, Phil hasn’t actually seen Martin Crimp’s Attempts on her Life at the National Theatre.

But shocked by Andrew’s comments on this controversial production in a telephone conversation, he decided toegges.jpg read Andrew’s full review. And full it was. Although partial to brevity when watching a play, Andrew can be a bit prone to loquacity.

So, if like Phil you clicked on Andrew’s full review, looked at its length, and the words “life’s too short” sprang to mind (Phil still hasn’t made it all the way through). The kindly Phil, knowing you all have better things to do this Easter weekend, has provided an apercu of Andrew’s rambling thoughts.

He loved it.

5 Responses to “Phil’s Review – Attempts on her Life”

  1. biped Says:

    I read the entirety of Andrews ravings and I have now booked Attemps against my better judgement. I will hold the whingers personally responsible if it turns out the be the worst couple of hours of my life. Who am I kidding, I booked an aisle seat just in case.

  2. Don’t worry, Biped.

    As you – unlike Phil – have both the intellect and the insight to absorb my thorough and astute analysis I’m confident you will be rewarded on the night. Do stop by afterwards and let us know whether you were up to it or not.


  3. shadowdaddy Says:

    I read the entirety of the ravings just now, well after having seen the show myself. I have to say, while I can’t actually disagree with any of the bullet points, I just can’t let myself go all ga-ga over something so very in love with a gimmick.

    Yes, watching the bits of stage action become a coherent video image is fascinating, yes, it is often humorous and clever and is indeed never boring, but I also felt it never really stitched together into anything cohesive. Where Andrew thought, “The work you find yourself putting into comparing the stage version with the video output is thrilling, absorbing and exhausting in a very satisfying way,” I found it occasionally distracting and unsatisfying. It felt to me like watching The Great and Terrible Oz…never mind that little man behind the curtain.

    Mounting this production must have been fascinating for the company and creative team. As an audience member, the video work felt like flames on a brandy – there because you can do it and it looks neat. I was sad to find that once the houselights came up there was nothing left in the glass.

  4. We love the brandy glass analogy. Very clever. We will use it ourselves at some point and pass it off as our own.

    We will also consider adding “cohesive” to our list of criteria but we’re not sure about it…

    We would be interested to know: did you see Faust? What did you think? Not at all cohesive – loads of irrelevant set and things, and a “staging” which guaranteed that you wouldn’t see all the action. And we had no idea what was going on, but it was a memorable and enjoyable experience all the same.

    Another thought on Attempts on Her Life: I remember thinking, “this play would be unbearable if it weren’t for the video”…

  5. shadowdaddy Says:

    I was feeling particularly poetic that day. Just wait until I try making a silk purse argument with a sow’s ear metaphor. Happens all the time.

    Er…yes, I did see Faust, and yes, it was remarkable, but you do raise a good point. I think the difference lies in the expectation and intent, really – very little about Faust (including the PR) said “traditional night in the theatre.” It was much more an “Event with a capital-E” that physically transported the audience into the world of the piece in ways that will and can simply never happen in the Lyttleton, and for that alone it was fantastic.

    I apparently just missed getting in on the first round of narrative when I showed up (like, Mephistopheles spoke to me as I walked in, and I was too dazzled by the environment for it to register that I should follow him immediately), and though I have a lovely time exploring from room to room, I would have been far less impressed by the evening overall if I hadn’t managed to catch up to the story later.

    As it turned out, the nearly-wordless narrative was presented in a way that was as compelling and lovely as the surroundings…and the completely seamless integration between the elements is what really made the show such a jaw dropper.

    As I think about the two, though, it comes to me that a big part of the ‘wow’ factor of Faust was that you, as the audience, were discovering and actually in the middle of these magical moments, and the person next to you or across the room could be having a completely different experience simply because they were watching from a different angle or had a tree poking them in the shoulder or an actor pushing them out of the way. I think Attempts on Her Life suffered a bit from sort of trying to paste these moments and perspectives together and serve them up on a platter while you and everyone else still sat in a regular old theatre seat, watching through the fourth wall.

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