Brink Productions / Budgie Lung @ Queens Theatre Stables
8:30pm, Sun 26 Feb 2006
The final work of dramatist Sarah Kane before her suicide in 1999, “4:48 Psychosis” is an intense and brutal piece, written from the point-of-view of one person suffering from a severe bipolar disorder. Named after the time when most sufferers claim to feel both clear-headed and cold, each of the actors adopt an internal mental fragment of the main character, alternating with external characters (most notably, The Doctor).
Performances are superb: Lizzy Falkland carries a fragile nobility akin to Swinton; Elena Carapetis haunts with doleful eyes; Kate Box’s explosion of anger about half-way through the piece was nothing less than staggering; and Roman Vaculik rounds out the psychoses with edge. The fifth star is the glorious set; presented in the round, a foot of sand forms the stage upon which the cast remain, propped by a single chair. Glorious lighting is accompanied by a continuous fine mist from an overhead watering system; the humidity produced adds to the overall intense experience.
The performance itself was made even more surreal when, 15 minutes from the end, an audience member just behind me had some sort of fit (during one of the “shouting” psychoses scenes, no less) and collapsed, to be dragged out by his friends; that certainly added a memorable edge to the play. Brickbats, however, go to the freak who thought that the dropping of the house lights to end the play was a great time to fire off an SMS with his mobile phone acting like a 8 squillion lumen torch. Way to kill the mood, fuckknuckle.
Apparently, the text for “4:48 Psychosis” contains no explicit characters or staging directions; thus, productions vary greatly. The vision shown by director Geordie Brookman (and company) in creating this piece is exceptional; overall, this is an brilliant bit of theatre, and certainly marks a new level in quality for both Brink and Budgie Lung.
Kane herself first attempted suicide by swallowing 150 anti-depressants and 50 sleeping pills; those numbers seem familiar, making me think they were mentioned within “4:48 Psychosis”. A friend discovered her and rushed her to hospital; two days later Kane hung herself with her shoelaces in a toilet. She was 28.