by Sarah Kane
Directed by Alyson Campbell
With Olivia Connolly, Richard Bligh, Tom Davies, & Suzette Williams
Set Design by Peter Mumford
Lighting by Richard Whitehouse
Stage Manager Alex Pryor
4.48 Psychosis (25 July – 25 August 2007) Chris Boyd, Herald Sun (10/08/07)
IF EVER a writer saw too deep and too much, it was Sarah Kane. The young British playwright shirtfronted audiences in the 1990s with her brutal visions of a brutal world. Famously, her first play was denounced as a “disgusting feast of filth” and a “sordid little travesty”.
She routinely tackled rape, racism and terrible injustices. Yet, in her own mind, her plays were about hope, faith and love. 4.48 Psychosis is Kane’s last play. It premiered a year after she took her own life. She was 28.
Structurally, 4.48 is as deranged as its suicidal protagonist. Or protagonists. The play is written as a freeform theatrical poem. Strictly speaking, there aren’t even individual parts. Lines are not allocated to characters. The script can be performed by two actors: a patient and a psychiatrist. The English premiere had a cast of three. This Red Stitch production has four. And it works well.
Alyson Campbell’s clear-eyed and confident production hides the countless gear changes in the script. Actors glide from basic stand-and-deliver acting to highly physical work that one could confidently call dance. Campbell turns therapy into a kind of religious activity.
The bleakness of the material is unrelieved, but the effect is far from depressing. We watch a stand-off between a woman (a magnificently centred Suzette Williams) and her psychiatrist as we would watch a passionate political debate.
4.48 Psychosis is definitely not for everyone, but you will be hard pressed to find a better-realised production of this play.