Attempts On Her Life – KXT Theatre (NSW)

Directed by Saro Lusty-Cavallari

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Rating: 4 out of 5.

King’s Cross Theatre
Until July 30th

Attempts on Her Life marks the last show at the Kings Cross Theatre before the hosting company, Bakehouse, moves to Broadway (whoever scored this spot deserves a pay rise) and continues their longstanding commitment to developing independent theatre. For a final goodbye, Montague Basement presents a stellar production that shows the possibility of what independent theatre can achieve.

The ground breaking piece of work by Martin Crimp, subtitled 17 Scenarios for the Theatre, is a curious one. Playing alone the same guise of Beckett’s absurdist take on theatre, Attempts on Her Life has text but no characters. The challenge being how exactly do you take a half-solved puzzle and turn it into something unique and meaningful?

Set against the backdrop of media saturation, Eastern European conflict, and right-wing terrorism, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the play was written only in recent years. Montague Basement show us that Crimps perplexing play is more relevant than ever.

Taking a leaf out of Sydney Theatre Company’s The Picture of Dorian Gray’s book, director and sound/video designer Saro Lusty-Cavallari harnesses digital technology to create green screen gags, actors interacting with themselves through pre-recorded bits of dialogue, and a rave-tastic atmosphere. Lusty-Cavallari has to be congratulated on the sound and video design alone through their bold and brazen use of a single camera manipulation in the KXT space. The slow pan through the dressing room over the posters of the many shows that have played at KXT was a nice touch to the theatre’s farewell.

Attempts on Her Life focuses on the incorporeal Anne/Annie/Anushka/The New Anny – which comes with electric windows as standard! Throughout the approximately seventeen individualised scenes we’re treated to a conglomerate of scenarios surrounding our mysterious protagonist. Who is she? What does she represent? The answers are endless. Throughout, she’s a pornographic movie star, a brand car, a terrorist, an art piece.

A commendable farewell to the residency of the Kings Cross Theatre.

This is a production which revels in the peculiar, whilst showing the potential for the mundane, and ultimately raising questions on art itself. Lusty-Cavallari’s cast, consisting of Lucy Burke, Bridget Haberecht, Lucinda Howes, Josephine Lee and Ebony Tucker are an insanely impressive ensemble. Donned in black suits with different coloured turtlenecks beneath, each takes their turn to lead us through the confronting, satirical and sometimes musical interpretations of Anne.

There are standout moments for each. Tucker & Haberecht’s learned dialogue in an Eastern European language was a gift you don’t often receive. Burke’s demanding presence and comic-timing landed gags across multiple scenes. Lee’s duologue conversation with herself on screen became a memorable scene out of the bunch. Howes acted as a constant thread tying the performers together and assisting in blending the scenes.

Whilst the artistry in which Attempts on Her Life deploys is purposeful and intuitive, the everyday audience may struggle with the absurdist concepts and pacing which sometimes extends the length of the piece.

A commendable farewell to the residency of the Kings Cross Theatre, Attempts on Her Life is resourceful in its creativity, its use of technology and encapsulating sound design. This is independent theatre at its most inquisitive, led by five top notch actors. Catch it before it closes the KXT for good and linger on its meaning long after you return home.

Attempts on Her Life plays at the Kings Cross Theatre until July 30th. Tickets can be booked here.

Content warning: contains strobe lighting; descriptions of sexual assault, suicide and violence; and racist, able-ist and homophobic language

Directed by Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Assistant Director Persephone Hitzke-Deane
Producers Claire Ferguson and Imogen Gardam
Set and Costume Designer Rita Naidu
Lighting Designer Sam Read
Sound and Video Designer Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Stage Manager Charlotte Breene
Production Photography Clare Hawley

RUN TIME: the approx run time for this show is 90 mins.


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