4.48 Psychosis

SUZANNE BURLTON: ‘When I see Sarah Kane, I want to be covered in pig’s blood or deafened by the screams of a thousand damned souls. And I left untouched.’

Blood Chloe Mashiter damned souls depression lateshow psychosis sarah kane

ADC Theatre, 20-23rd October, 7.30pm, £4-6

Directed by Chloe Mashiter


4.48 Psychosis can be such a great play, but it really needs to be hugely ambitious in design, acting and concept. Mashiter’s version just sort of wasn’t, really.

Playwright Sarah Kane’s dialogue can seem rather histrionic and uncomprehendingly bizarre which is why the production needs to use it simply as a foundation for something manic.

The problem with this production is that it is too sane. Too realistic. We observe The Lover’s madness from the outside when really the whole play needs to  be experienced from the inside.

Furthermore, it needs a phenomenal actress to play the main part of The Lover and Hannah Wildsmith never quite got there. There were moments when she really got into the shouting and the hot and cold emotion – running through her medication and the post-suicide passage at the end were somewhat compelling. There was simply a lack of range in the rest of the play which failed to make the monologue quite interesting enough, and she never sufficiently felt and expressed her character’s abyssal anguish.

In Acting, hands on the head denote Sadness.

There was a lack of stillness too. Hannah was always moving and shifting and one gets the sense that if she just decided to stand still sometimes, she might have had more of a powerful stage presence.

The parts played by Archie Preston and Nikki Moss are essentially foils for The Lover, and were played well enough. There is little one can really do with them.  It was a shame that The Doctor was not male, missing the potential for some interesting gender tension.

In technical terms, this production was reasonably accomplished. The lighting was appropriately harsh-but-plain and the sound effects did add to the atmosphere effectively. However, as with the rest of the play I felt that conceptually it was lacking something truly outrageous to lift it into an almost Artaudian sense of chaos and audience assault.

I was sad, then, that this production was so… conventional. When I see Sarah Kane, I want to be covered in pig’s blood or deafened by the screams of a thousand damned souls. And I left untouched.