4:48 Psychosis is the last play penned by British playwright Sarah Kane before her suicide in 1999. That the manuscript was left in an envelope with her suicide note probably gives you a fair idea of what you're in for here. Variously described by critics as 'a deeply personal howl of pain' and 'written in the almost certain knowledge that it would be performed posthumously', Kane's final work, one imagines, is as difficult to stage as it is to watch. The script is a puzzle, with no setting, no characters and no delineations for dialogue. When the Royal Court first staged the play a year after her death, they had several different groups of actors gather for readings in an attempt to assign voices to certain segments.
Regardless of how Red Line Productions choose to stage it, this is difficult material. One interpretation of the script paints a consciousness (with or without a body is unclear) in turmoil, raging against uncomprehending medical staff and itself in equal measure. But many reviews of past productions have also written of the playfulness of the text and a surprising humour. Kane never flinched from the grit and unpleasantness of existence, but almost two decades after being written, 4:48 Psychosis also burns with energy and ferocity.
This one'll be hard going, but the rewards are there for those who can tough it out.
Image: Marmaras Shoots.