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Anatomy of a Suicide

“Alice Birch's beautiful, aching play”
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Alice Birch’s beautiful, aching play depends on the careful delivery of synchronised and overlapping dialogue from characters in three time periods who share the same stage at the same time. It functions like a symphony. Every note is critical.

Director Lileana Blain-Cruz’s production gets some of the musical movements right, but it’s neither as chilling nor as finely tuned as the original production at London’s Royal Court.

Birch’s play explores generational trauma. Carol (Carla Gugino) is suicidal and holds on to life as best she can as her daughter grows up. That daughter, Anna (Celeste Arias), is an addict, who’s in recovery until her struggles return postpartum. Her child, Bonnie (Gabby Beans), becomes a doctor who has difficulty expressing her feelings or fitting in socially.

Gugino’s Carol has a steely stillness. Arias’ Anna has a captivating manic energy that transforms into desolate panic when her mental health starts to slip away from her. Beans gives a skewering performance as Bonnie, full of silent anguish and longing. Alongside them, the supporting cast disappear into the background with the exception of Miriam Silverman, who plays a number of supporting characters including Carol’s aggressive sister-in-law.

Mariana Sanchez’s set, soothing sea-grass coloured walls with occasional warm lighting, are at odds with this emotionally raw play. The texture of the walls is changed by projections that overemphasise the emotional changes, something that hits its peak with images of tumbling waves.

The repetition of words and the reoccurring themes in these women’s lives should echo with meaning, but it feels as if the performers are still working on perfecting their delivery. There are one too many off-notes.


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Production Details
Production nameAnatomy of a Suicide
VenueLinda Gross Theater
LocationNew York
StartsFebruary 1, 2020
EndsMarch 15, 2020
Running time1hr 45mins
AuthorAlice Birch
DirectorLileana Blain-Cruz
Set designerMariana Sanchez
Costume designerKaye Voyce
Lighting designerJiyoun Chang
Sound designerRucyl Frison
Video designerHannah Wasileski
CastJulian Elijah Martinez, Ava Briglia, Carla Gugino, Celeste Arias, Gabby Beans, Jason Babinsky, Jo Mei, Miriam Silverman, Richard Topol, Vince Nappo
Production managerSm Payson
ProducerAtlantic Theater Company
VerdictProduction of Alice Birch's harrowing play that captures some of its musicality but lacks cohesion
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Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore

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