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LA Theater Review

Attempts on Her Life

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In a way, Martin Crimp's script is not modern theatre's best encapsulation of the human condition. But give it this: It provides sturdy but malleable clay from which actors and directors can fashion whatever they please. The script consists of 17 scenes, none with given locations, assigned roles, or even indications as to the number of actors in each scene. The scenes are connected by their references to a woman named, variously, Ann, Anny, Anya. What does it tell us that even the playwright has deliberately chosen not to know her that well? She's always unseen by us, yet she has had an effect on a wide variety of folk. In scenes 2 and 13, for example, it seems she's the topic of an upcoming onscreen characterization, as creative types (Diana Wyenn, Craig Johnson, Don Oscar Smith, Tom Fitzpatrick, and Kathy Bell Denton) objectively dissect her persona. Scene 6 finds her parents (Fitzpatrick, Denton) recalling her in their rosy haze. Scene 5 is a perky musical-theatre number; Scene 14 is a punkish one (led by Kelly Lett and Liz Davies). Or so it goes in the hands of co-directors Chris Covics and Bart DeLorenzo, whose imaginations must have been grateful for the gifts of this script. Terror, humor, surreality, unfortunate reality — each scene has a discrete state or mood and yet joins in on a surprisingly unified vision. All take place in what looks like a photographer's studio, in which chairs needed for scenes drop down via a complex system of ropes and pulleys, then are whisked away for later use (set design by Covics). Turning two scenes into monologues, the directors give the stage to Eve Sigall and Leo Marks, who mesmerize us. Taras Michael Los slips eerily on stage to prompt a young actor (Brittany Slattery) who tellingly "forgets" her speech on the upsides of making porn. Yes, this one's a puzzle. But that's okay by us. After all, how well do we ever know anyone, even those close to us? And ironically that's terribly revealing of the human condition.

Presented by Evidence Room with and at the Unknown Theater, 1110 N. Seward St., Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 6 p.m. Nov. 10-Dec. 15. (323) 466-7781. www.unknowntheater.com.

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