Anatomy of a Suicide
Presented by Sugary Rum Productions in association with Red Line Productions
Written by Alice Birch
Director: Shane Anthony
Firstly, ‘Anatomy of a Suicide’ is beautifully written. Alice Birch is a gifted writer. She exposes life with the understanding of one who has lived many lifetimes through many different skins and situations. However, I must admit that while all her characters breathe, it is her female characters that truly resonate with me.
Three generations of potential tragedy; two generations where the suicide of a family’s central female character wreaks havoc and a certain sense of inevitability … then a generation that would appear to break the cursed genetic lineage.
Carol, played by Anna Samson is a wife and mother of the Sixties/Seventies, married to train driver (Charles Mayer). She has a troubled psychology encased within movie star good looks – a double dose of aberrant if you will.
We meet Anna (Andrea Demetriades), Carol's daughter round five real-time minutes later on the night of the play though approximately 20 odd years further into the story. Anna is a wild child of the Eighties who also has her demons – including a heroin habit and dealing with the trauma of her mother/Anna’s suicide – these two factors are impossible not to see as complicit.
Lastly we meet Bonnie, Anna’s daughter. Our first encounter is in an emergency ward where we glean that she is a doctor and also a lesbian; as a rather brazen patient is hitting on her and receiving Bonnie’s reluctantly positive response to the flirtation. Bonnie, quite obviously, is aware of her genetic propensity to extreme depression and also nurses the tragic knowledge of both her mother and grandmother’s suicides. We assume that Bonnie bears the inter-generational trauma these deaths have caused.
A lot going on? You bet, and it is ramped even further when clever set design and scene segues frequently enable the telling of the stories of these three related women at the same time. I was never quite sure if I was being subtly directed to switch my attention between stories at appropriate times or if the three narratives were formed to be continually compelling in isolation but also continually relevant to the other women's lives.
A chance encounter with actor Charles Mayer the next morning gave me the added insight that theatre director Shane Anthony is also a dance choreographer. I believe this spatial expertise allowed for the complexity of simultaneous story telling in ‘Anatomy of a Suicide’ to succeed …while the possible descent into bedlam of this 'three-story' stage presentation kept the implicit psychological character melt-downs in the interwoven stories always a possibility.
Anatomy of a Suicide
The Old Fitz Theatre
Until July 6