anatomy of a suicide

written by Alice Birch, directed by Katie Mitchell

I’ve never felt more selfish about a production. 

I don’t want to read what anyone else has said. I don’t feel I can.

Women and motherhood and daughterhood and suicide. I am a woman and I am a daughter and I don’t know if I want to be a mother yet. I saw this production with my mum. It could have made the show far more challenging to watch, but instead, she was a safety net. I held onto her afterwards.

I don’t really know what to say.

At the risk of sounding terrible and bigoted, I don’t want to read what a man has to say about this show. Not yet, anyway. In the final scenes, a woman requests a hysterectomy. She’s not likely to get pregnant because she’s gay but the possibility of it, the potential, is too much for her to hold onto her fertility.  I just feel like that loss is so pivotally centred around people with a uterus that the undertaking cannot be emotionally consumed by people who don’t grow humans inside of them.

Maybe? Not sure. 

Hattie Morahan, Kate O’Flyn, Adelle Leonce gave absolute clarity and precision to a dense and deeply complicated text.

Alice Burch writes with an intelligence and sensitivity approaching form and character that most of us can only hope to achieve.

Katie Mitchell creates such a richly layered and intense experience. She allowed the production to give flesh and skin to the bones and nerves and muscle of the writing.

This is a bit too emotional.

In the front row, a guy in a suit was slouched all the way back into his chair. All the women beside him, because it was all women in that front row, didn’t move for the entirety of the show, and their hands gripped the edges of their seats. The woman directly in front of me lets out a small gasp when Anna places her hairdryer in the bath with her. It’s physically painful, difficult, upsetting for these women to face the women on stage.

It wasn’t so much a slap in the face as a slow intrusion of a poisoned knife into my sternum. It’s only just being drawn out now. I’ll feel the effects of the poison for the next few months.

People will text you and say I think that review was a bit too emotional

Ophelia lingered at the back of mind for a large part of those two hours. Were these women allowed to be ugly in a way she is not? I think they begin to be. Carol is immaculate, haunted, beautiful. Anna is tortured and useless and often grotesque. Bonnie is the closest thing to what I know to be sadness. I feel very protective of women and madness and representation so I was waiting for a moment of weakness in the production, the direction, the writing. It didn’t come. White dresses either didn’t fit properly or were worn with badass red shoes. Hats and hairclips and grease crowned them instead of flowers.

You didn’t really say anything about the production though, did you?

The men were pathetic wrecks while the women stood tall: pillars of endurance. The tableaux of their three naked bodies stood motionless at the front of the stage, magnificent and made of marble.


Any creative force I had that would make this worth reading has been sucked out.

All the water has been squeezed out of me like a wet towel

If I could I’d see it again and again.

Self-preservation or self-destruction?

Everything in this was important and I can’t grasp any of it. There’s nothing solid to sit down and analyse I don’t want to analyse it I don’t want to discuss it with anyone I want to keep it as something I experienced

I forced myself to get up and write this.

I’ll do a proper review in a month.

For now, this is what I’m left with.