Sarah Kane's CLEANSED to Hit Sydney Independent Stage for First Time

Sarah Kane's CLEANSED to Hit Sydney Independent Stage for First TimeMontague Basement will present Sarah Kane's Cleansed at the Sydney Fringe - the first time this controversial and shocking work has been presented in Sydney outside of an educational institution.

"It's such a spectacularly audacious play," says director Saro Lusty-Cavallari. "Kane has quite deliberately chosen to expose her characters through probing their bodies. A common soliloquy is getting inside a character's mind and teasing out what's there. Cleansed is about getting inside the flesh, poking around and seeing what is to be found."

Running for a week at PACT from September 19, Cleansed follows six disparate outcasts in a nameless institution as their lives and bodies are observed, dissected and obliterated by the eyes of the ever-present Tinker - perhaps a friend, perhaps a doctor, perhaps neither.

Cleansed made headlines last year with Kate Mitchell's notorious production for the National Theatre in the UK that caused multiple audience members to faint.

While notoriously violent and explicit, Cleansed also holds a message of hope.

"Kane puts these characters through such unbelievably brutal spectacles of violence; she frames it all in this incredibly sparse and richly layered text; there are allusions to everything from the Holocaust to Orwell and in the end her central theme? Love," notes Lusty-Cavallari.

"It's the most saccharine idea underpinning one of the most seemingly cruel and cynical plays of the Modern Stage and I think that is what's so radical about it. Viciousness is subversiveness, sentimentality even more so."

Montague Basement's production will see the antagonist Tinker cross-cast as a woman, with Annie Stafford taking on the role. The production will use cameras and live feeds to embody and mediate the text's violence.

"By using a camera controlled by the omnipotent institution to reframe the entire play as it's being performed I want to think about how we view violence," says Lusty-Cavallari. "Be it a horror film or a Four Corners segment: whose camera are we watching and what are they deliberately leaving out of frame?"

All in all Cleansed promises to be a fun night out at the theatre.

"There's undoubtedly a darkness to the entire script but never underestimate Kane's sense of humour, she knows the slapstick potential in sudden mutilation."

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