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Enter bare stage. Eight girls, upper stage, their backs turned to the audience.
This showcase of Sarah Kane’s final play was performed with no props, little aid of lighting change and only two musical pieces. The audience is taken into the metaphysical, abstract corners of the principal character’s dark thoughts. Time is largely irrelevant – the events don’t seem particularly chronological. One exception: the repetition of the title, the hour 4:48. This is the time that “she” will end her life.
The chorus of 8 female actors seem to represent the mind of one woman. At the beginning there is the one girl, played by Jess Radomska, who tears herself from the line with one phrase angrily directed at the audience: “But you have friends”. In the end this line of girls are front stage now, no longer with their backs turned to the audience, they face us. The “character” we have observed slip in and out of psychosis has not resolved the troubles of her mind: “It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of mind”.
The “In yer face” style of the piece, as some critics have labelled Kane’s work, had definitely been done justice by the actresses and the directors of this piece. This was most exemplified when there was just one girl left on stage, Aurelia Gage, who spoke terrifyingly of her despair of being trapped. The rest of the seven girls were quietly sat amongst the audience. The powerful words and the powerful performance displayed here captured emotions that are so hardly acceptable to speak in public. This moment was undoubtedly one of the highlights – Gage’s performance had people buzzing long after the play had ended.
In addition, the performance by Grace Morrison that culminated in the whole cast screaming profanity on stage was one of the most moving moments of the performance for me. The staging perfectly illustrated the feelings of despair and conflict in the protagonist and there is something completely terrifying about hearing your own greatest insecurities screamed at you from a stage that was massively emotive. Given that the whole cast were performing with LUTG for the first time, they are definitely all worth keeping an eye on – the performance by all was brilliant and they undoubtedly have more to offer in the future!
The performance was at its strongest in these moments of monologue, where the script was used to the fullest to engage the audience and evoke powerful emotions. Between these moments of brilliance, there was quite a lot of fluff that felt a little unnecessary; the small dance interlude didn’t really fit with the rest of the performance and seemed expendable. Given that the set, costumes and script is all so bare and candid, they seemed out of place.
Despite this one complaint, LUTG Presents: 4.48 Psychosis is definitely a show that everyone should be rushing out to watch. Based in the Nuffield Theatre on campus until Saturday (Week 9), there’s really no excuse for not making it to a performance.