Anatomy of a Suicide @ Royal Court Theatre

Tuesday 20/06/17

Cast Includes Hattie Morahan, Kate O’Flynn and Adelle Leonce

Running Time: 2 hours, no interval

Anatomy of a Suicide is the latest collaboration between writer Alice Birch and director Katie Mitchell following Ophelias Zimmer, premiering in the Royal Court. The piece is highly complex and layers three concurrent narratives set over three distinct time periods into one piece – it is so complicated that the play text has been scored, rather like music.

Birch has created a supremely clever script by taking the initial scene with Carol (Morahan) in isolation, the audience is able to see the effects of a tragedy and how it impacts on a family, with each separate narrative tackling a different generation. Birch explores how this may impact on a family in a way that is innovative and clever. She has crafted a spectacularly ingenious piece certain words and phrases reoccur throughout the separate narratives, or on occasion overlap, rather like the use of motifs and dynamics in music. The piece’s layering is also well crafted – all three narratives are clear and easy to follow, though this is not a piece where the audience can allow their attention to wander.

The cast for this show are an absolute treat. All three leads give stellar performances – Hattie Morahan is able to communicate so much with just a look or a simple action, such as smoking a cigarette. We also get a wonderful Kate O’Flynn (recently seen in The Glass Menagerie in the Duke of York’s) as recovering addict Anna and Adelle Leonce is brilliant as Bonnie, who is colder and more detached, focussed on her career and struggling to move on from events from previous generations.

The staging of the piece is also highly imaginative – the three concurrent narratives each occur in their own area of the stage, which works well. The main cast is also dressed by other members of cast between each scene, each in their own colour: Morahan is in red, O’Flynn in blue/green and Leonce in white, however there is some symbolic overlap, with certain colour highlights carrying over to the next generation, showing the carried over emotion.

Summary: A stunningly clever and emotive show with fantastic lead performances. *****

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