Monday, April 21, 2014

"Annie" is who again? The Horse in Motion debuts strongly and strangely

Kaillee Coleman, Elaine Huber and Chris Lee Hill (on the table). Photo credit Allyce Andrew
Attempts on Her Life
by Martin Crimp
The Horse in Motion
(at University Heights Center)
through April 27

The debut production from The Horse in Motion, a theater company mostly of UW grads, is definitely for recent UW grads. This is not to say it's not for others, but the edgy, character-less, roaming, episodic nature of this script by Martin Crimp is totally suited to the college crowd and those who like intellectual and even circular argument.

Attempts on Her Life, in script form, apparently does not even instruct who should speak what lines, or where the scenes take place, or time, or much else. It's the perfect vehicle for capturing the imaginations of this crew of theater-loving performers. So, they infuse the production with a variety of video images, locations, and moments, and spread them out throughout the University Heights center (it used to be a school).

Audiences are led in groupings to rooms with scenes, and up and down stairs to an "art gallery," a tea party where the diners are served rocks with whipped cream, and more. The focus of the evening is a being (we aren't sure what kind of entity) named Annie. We learn about Annie, though it's clear that there are no sure conclusions about her.

Personally, I wasn't that interested in Annie herself. I was more interested in the immersive experience of the evening and the commitment of these young people to what they were presenting. I was less interested in the words of the script (many of which are very, very, very dark and had to do with Annie wanting to commit suicide or mentions of other activities of violence) than in those who were uttering them.

This is a great debut with impressive and concrete theatrical substance. The press release told me why they named themselves thusly. "The Horse in Motion comes from an 1872 attempt by inventor Eadweard Muybridge to prove that a horse in completely airborne for a moment while galloping. To do this, he increased the shutter speed of his camera, and when the pictures were played back at high speed, the result was the first moving picture.

“Like Muybridge,” says actor and company member Mary Hubert, “We are using the traditional tools of theatre in new and innovative ways to change people’s view of the world. We are attempting to capture that moment of possibility and magic in everyday life when we are untethered from the earth and discover anything is possible.”

I look forward to seeing what this rather large ensemble of 22? 25? will expend their efforts on next time. For tickets to this show, go to

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