BWW Review: 4.48 PSYCHOSIS Haunts Carnegie Stage
When you walk into the black box Carnegie Stage, the impressive and overpowering rear wall of text smacks you in the face. In front is a scene from a dystopian mental hospital, complete with an old spring bed and metal frame, a broken and dirty bathtub, and torn hospital curtains. This becomes the haunting backdrop for Sarah Kane's eerie 4.48 Psychosis.
The possibly autobiographical text dives into the inner workings of clinical depression, something Kane struggled with before ultimately taking her life after the play was written. There lacks a single plotline as the three actors on stage communicate through, by and with each other, drifting between doctor and patient, delirium and pretense, as they try to make sense or nonsense of their lives and committing suicide.
Robyne Parrish, the director of this binary enigma, took artistic liberty with this show, as no stage directions are given in the text. With that, however, she was able to craft a fairly cohesive piece out of the jumbled and random dialogue that tells mini stories instead of one narrative.
Three actors, Erika Cuenca, Tammy Tsai, and Siovhan Christensen, do a commendable job with a multitude of lines; lacking a single character, all embodied multiple personalities, peoples, and even animals. I'm still a bit shaken by Ms. Tsai's innocent sheep "baa."
Unsurprisingly, this onomatopoeia was nowhere near the most disturbing or troubling lines Sarah Kane wrote. This play looks at suicide differently than the controversial 13 Reasons Why by using highly sensitive poetic language that is as graphic as it is flowery.
In addition to voice, the movement of this play, choreographed by Moriah Ella Mason, tells the other half of the stories. Ms. Mason's work focuses on the ideas of struggle and resistance against the self and searching for cure hidden deep within.
The show ended Saturday, but this Off the Wall production will not die of its own accord. The intimate space of Carnegie Stage allowed for the actors to get within reaching distance of every audience member. It truly felt like you were given a peak into one possible mental interpretation of clinical depression, but that is an important thought to remember when viewing any work of art like this. All pieces are to be interpreted and valued as individualistic. The deep themes of depression and suicide affect each audience member differently and should not be used to overgeneralize the conditions or acts.
With that in mind, the performance was well conceived from the complex script, and for audience members fortunate enough to witness the show, open the curtains to those in need and support friends like you support the arts.
To see or not to see score: 5/9; Approved Show
Photo Credit: Off the Wall Productions