Friday, 29 March 2013

Anna Weiss

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
When Mike Cullen's play about a hypnotherapist, the young woman she 
treats and the young woman's father appeared in 1997, it was 
devastatingly timely. Sexual abuse of children by their families was 
being exposed in a way it never had been before, but so was False 
Memory Syndrome, whereby seemingly long-buried traumas were 'revealed.' 
Almost sixteen years on, and Cullen's play is no less breath-taking in 
Rekindle Theatre's intense and up close and personal revival.

It begins with Anna and her live-in patient Lynn surrounded by boxes 
all neatly packed with forgotten memories in a limbo between the past, 
present and a brand new future. As Lynn frantically rummages around for 
a long lost photograph, the pair spar with the brutality only 
co-dependents can muster. Lynn has invited her father who may or may 
not have abused her to visit in order to confront him. Anna doesn't 
approve, even less so when David appears.

For seventy-five emotionally relentless minutes, a troubling portrait 
of fractured lives is laid out in the rawest of fashions. Cullen's 
lines are like knives, stabbing out accusingly in little staccato 
assaults until one or other character crumbles. Such meticulously 
constructed barbs require subtlety rather than hysteria, and while 
Janette Foggo's production isn't quite the revival the play deserves, 
Kirstin McLean's Anna is as manipulative as she is brittle, while 
Joanne Thomson's Lynn is equally fragile.

The play's ambiguity remains, however, and it's perhaps for that very 
reason it's been neglected for so long. With everything that's happened 
since it was first seen, the psychological scars it picks at have 
become even more real than they did before.

The Herald, March 29th 2013


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