Friday 1 July 2016

4:48 Psychosis review

Playwright Sarah Kane suffered from severe depression and it was at 4:48am when she would often wake up. Kane's final play 4:48 Psychosis, is an experimental show that has no characters, nor a number of actors required, no clear narrative and upon viewing it, feels more like a piece of poetry rather than theatre text.

Director and actor, Kendall-Jane Rundle is in the challenging role of the 'protagonist' in this production. Unfortunately, a stronger emotional connection to the material and work was needed to build on the subtleties required for a person experiencing the emotions described. Jeff Wortman does well in predominantly a role that attempts to keep Rundle's character safe and not listen to the fear and anxiety enveloping her. Alisha Eddy and Jessica Stevens complete the cast, and together are a  Greek chorus of two, often commenting on what is happening on stage or adding to the emotional tension.  

It's not an easy thing to have an audience believe in the world a theatre company is creating, regardless of how 'urnreal' that world may be. In 4:48 Psychosis, there were a number of times I became aware that this world was not real, mainly with the use of imaginary food. If real knives, peelers, cups, chairs and towels were used, why wasn't real food be used? Why use imaginary food? Understandably it's a small thing to notice, but it was an obvious reminder that I was indeed watching a performance.

The staging however is where the show excels, making us feel like we are inside a person's head and hearing all their thoughts. The four actors can be seen as these thoughts; sometimes they are calm and soothing, other times, they speak over each other and in panicked tones. The lighting design by Shane Grant is extremely well thought out and provides a dark and foreboding atmosphere to the show. Lightbulbs hanging down at different heights from the ceiling are reminiscent of the erratic thoughts that can race through someone's mind, turning on and off throughout the show.

Kane ended her life shortly after completing this work in 1999, making 4:48 Psychosis even more poignant and unsettling regarding the struggles that someone who is suffering from depression faces. While Bare Naked Theatre's production seems to push itself too far in preserving the play's legacy, it is still a provoking piece on just how powerful and consuming darkness can be.

Venue: Metanoia Theatre, 270 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Season: Until 2 July | Fri - Sat 8pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc 
Bookings: Metanoia Theatre

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