Skip to main content

Anna Weiss at the Space, Isle of Dogs- KiteHigh Theatre- whose memory is it anyway?

In a final twist at the end of Mike Cullen’s play it becomes clear whose memory we are to really believe. Or does it?

aw
Mike Cullen believes that the function of theatre is to ‘generate debate rather than dictate a viewpoint’ and KiteHigh’s new production of Anna Weiss, directed by Abigail Pickard Price, certainly achieves this. The play itself dips and dives, slipping frustratingly out of your hands just when you think you’ve got it sussed. At its core lies fierce ambiguity and revelation. Lynn [Chloe Walshe] is hypnotherapist Anna Weiss’ [Sandra Paternostro] young patient, with whom she also lives. The play takes place on the eve the two are to move to a new town and the pair are meant to be celebrating. However, there’s a problem- Anna’s hypnosis has uncovered Lynn’s repressed memories of child molestation carried out by her father and tonight’s the night she will confront him. When the father David [Charlie Haskins] finally arrives what unfolds is an almost anti—theory polemic discourse as Lynn tries to assert her own [learned?] truth as much as David at first denies it but then relents, though not for the reasons you might expect.

The epiphany that happens at the end of the play poses questions surely about collective memory and its dangerous associations. The question here is whether it is collective memory that is in full operation or is there a darker and more subconscious force at work between Anna and Lynn? Whatever the conclusion, the play raises uncomfortable questions about the nature of therapy and of hypnotherapy in particular, which in this country, is still unregulated.

The set’s sparsity, populated only by cardboard boxes, is a metaphor obviously for those repressed memories or memories that others implant or rearrange in order to serve their own needs- for anyone watching the meaning of this will become clear. Sandra Paternostro’s breakdown and clear sightedness is worthy of any in an August Wilson play and Chloe Walshe is effective as the confused young woman who thinks she knows and still thinks she knows in the drama’s last act. And hats off to Charlie Haskins who stepped in to play David at the last moment- a beautifully detailed and restrained performance that leaves the audience divided over his innocence.

Cool, calculated, perplexing and with some fine directing by Abigail Pickard Price, the play skewers your thoughts- is this false memory syndrome or collective memory gone wrong? The answer lies with you.

Anna Weiss continues at The Space until 13th September

www. space.org.uk

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Collabo- Hip hop with a difference

There’s a buzz in the air at Stratford Circus Arts Centre. No wonder, this is the 10th anniversary of Collabo, Tony Adigun’s annual dance celebration founded in 2006 to promote new collaborations and hip-hop hybrids from dance groups. Friday’s program of short portfolios opens with 10 (UnTitled Dance Company) choreographed by Lukas McFarlane lasting fifteen minutes (no mean feat in the hip-hop world) and featuring 10 tracks and illustrating some super synchronised steps and gyros executed with military precision. The occasional, surprising rigidness of the choreography is broken by experimentation with spoken word. Liberation (What Is Written Dance Company) has the same exactness, but their more simple choreography is easier on the eye after the mass sprawl of 10. Kweku Aacht and Guest Dancers produce an interpretation of a track performed live onstage- the sometimes rowdy crowd shouting out and encouraging the performers on hold their breath as the troupe fluctuate between free style a…

Once in a Lifetime- theatre review: slightly revised to reflect the ambiguous ending

Once in a Lifetime is a show about the tenuous and complicated relationship between creativity and destruction. Re-adapted here by Chris Hart, son of one half of the original writing duo Moss Hart and George S Kaufman, the show may well be set in 1930s Hollywood just as the talkies are about to change cinema forever, but it might also be poking fun at an art form that is a little closer to home. Director Richard Jones always takes risks with little produced, marginalised or very well known works in a bid to uncover something new that might be a comment on our own times. Here, a story about hapless Vaudeville trio act George (John Marquez), Jerry (Kevin Bishop) and May (Claudie Blakley), who set out to conquer Hollywood with their mythic elocution school, is the perfect fit for the director to explore themes that seem to obsess him: national myth, parody, the tyranny of power, willed self-destruction, bureaucracy, global fantasy, etc. So far, the show has not gone down so well with the c…

Walking the Tightrope- Theatre Delicatessen

Site-specific set? Perhaps. In the old Guardian offices in Farringdon, Offstage Theatre and Theatre Uncut curate a cycle of 12 short plays exploring the tension[s] between art and politics, reactions to the budget cuts to the arts in the UK and debate freedom of expression controversies. Corruption, class divides, perception, blood money, gesture politics and culpability, it’s all there and recent topical events are given stage time, from The Tricycle’s controversial decision to withdraw their support for the UK Jewish Film Festival to the Barbican’s cancelled Exhibit B. The plays are entertaining- Sun City by April De Angelis, Re: Exhibit by Gbolahan Obisesan, Old Newland by Julie Pascal, Tickets are on Sale Now by Caryl Churchill and Exhibit A, by Neil LaBute, all deserve special mention for looking beyond the parameters of funding and freedom of expression in the UK arts- by which of course, I mean a theatrical London still surfing the very last trickling waves of Colonialism and it…