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Attempts on Her Life 

A series of impressionistic scenes paints a portrait of a mysterious woman, in an unusual play that's more style than substance

Wednesday, Aug 21 2002
The idea is interesting: 17 scenes about a mysterious woman approach her character using oblique, wildly different narrative styles. Her name is Annie, or Anya, or Ann. In "Mum & Dad," Annie's nervous parents talk about the sometimes-pornographic pictures she sends home. "The Camera Loves You" suggests that Ann wanted to be an actress or a supermodel. "The New Annie" is a promotional film in nonsense German about Annie as a slick European sports car. "Untitled (100 words)" imagines a gallery exhibition of her suicide memorabilia. "Strangely" is an obscure glimpse of somebody's murder. "Porno" is a sort of screen test, with Ann smiling on closed-circuit TV while a Slavic (or Italian?) voice-over explains the personal and societal advantages of a career in the skin trade. "Obviously," translates one actor, "porno doesn't keep her from living an ordinary life." The effect is not of a play so much as a series of inkblots, in which you can see and believe what you want about Ann. Martin Crimp is that rare thing, a British avant-garde playwright, and Ben Yalom has done a solid job of directing the madly varied scenes into a coherent-seeming whole, but at heart the script is like Peer Gynt's onion -- peel away the layers and nothing's there.


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