Review: 4.48 Psychosis (Necessary Angel Theatre Company)

Necessary Angel 4.48 Psychosis Bruce Godfree Laura Condlln Raven Dauda Photo J Lauener

Necessary Angel Theatre Company brings an arresting production of 4.48 Psychosis to Toronto’s Berkeley Street Theatre

Where to begin? I have been fascinated by Sarah Kane and her tragic story since I read her plays in university. What could drive someone so incredibly talented and intelligent to take her own life, I wondered. Naturally, I wanted to see Necessary Angel‘s production of 4.48 Psychosis at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Yet, I was also circumspect about the whole thing.

4.48 Psychosis is a play by British playwright Sarah Kane. The play has no definitive characters or stage directions, continuing in the style of her previous play Crave. Because of this, stage productions vary considerably. 4.48 Psychosis is a subjective presentation of clinical depression, giving the audience insight into one particular case. The title of the play derives from the time 4:48 a.m., when Kane, in her depressed state, often woke to a few minutes of clarity. Shortly after the play was written, Kane sadly ended her own life.

Before the play even starts, you know you’re in for a very dark and cerebral experience. The set is essentially a giant, magnificent, wooden bleacher. Bottles of liquor, plastic pill bottles, coffee cups, and french presses linger at the edges of the rows. There is also an open pit in the floor at the front of the stage, inside which there is a dark pool of water. The scenic design alone, with it’s apocalyptic steps leading to the top, could make one question their own existence.

When you first enter the space, with all it’s ominous peculiarities, three expressionless actors sit side by side. The picture was as eerie as watching The Exorcist alone in your basement at 3 a.m. Thankfully, director Vikki Anderson chose to add certain elements of humour into the production which helped lighten the load a bit.

All three performances were, without question, incredible. Laura Condlln successfully manages to find all the complicated layers of her character without being maudlin. Bruce Godfree was attracting and heartbreaking to watch in his role as the rejected lover. Raven Dauda in the role of the doctor was arresting. She had a couple moments that had me fighting back tears.

All in all, this is a definite must-see. I’m not sure if the way Anderson decided to break up the text serves the production as well as it could have but, nonetheless, this was almost perfectly executed.

Details:

  • 4:48 Psychosis is playing until February 23rd, 2013 at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street).
  • Shows run Monday to Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
  • Tickets $25-$38.
  • Tickets are available in person at the Berkeley Street Theatre box office, by phone at 416.368.3110 or online at www.canadianstage.com.

Photo credit:

– Photo of Bruce Godfree, Laura Condlln, and Raven Dauda by J. Lauener