Brink Productions / Budgie Lung
Queen's Theatre

Review by Simon Slade

Playwright Sarah Kane suffered from a mental illness, and wrote only five plays. 4.48 Psychosis was the last play she wrote, finishing it in January 1999. A month later, she was in hospital following a suicide attempt, when she hanged herself with her shoelaces. She never saw this play staged.

David Greig writes in his introduction to her collected plays that 4.48 Psychosis is "perhaps uniquely painful in that it appears to have been written in the almost certain knowledge that it would be performed posthumously". It is one of the bravest and most distressing plays I have ever seen. No characters are named, and even their number is unspecified. It could be a journey through one person's mind, or an interview between a doctor and his patient.

Textually heavy and dramatically intense, the play takes us inside the mind. The audience surrounds the square of sand in which the actors perform. A grid of lights points straight down on them. From jets set just under the lights, water streams down onto the cast throughout the entire show. This is a far more effective way of staging this show than the clinical approach favoured by some other directors.

Rather than playing particular characters, the cast performs twenty-four different scenes, opening a window to the thoughts and feelings of a psychotic mind. They play scenes in which three actors represent two characters, and all four actors represent the one character.

The four actors, Cameron Goodall, Lizzy Falkland, Ksenja Logos, and Michaela Cantwell, give intense performances and each brings something different to the expressions of madness.

Director, Geordie Brookman, has drawn on his experience in directing film and television, as actors play to each other or across each other in a setting that is completely surrounded by the audience.

Behind all of this is a soundscape and score designed by Mark Harding, which combines sound effects and electronic and acoustic instruments.

The Queen's Theatre, with its expanse of decay is the ideal setting for this show.

This is raw and challenging theatre - to be thought about and talked about.