4.48 Psychosis Review: Look Inside a Psychotic Mind
The Skidmore Theater studio labs started off on a grim note with 4.48 Psychosis. The playwright, Sarah Kane, took her own life shortly after finishing it, and the play was not produced until almost a year later. Kane suffered from clinical depression, which clearly had a tremendous influence on her writing. Even the title is a direct reference to her own experience, as 4:48 AM is the time she would often wake up in her depressed state.
The play is written in a very unorthodox style; there are no designated characters or stage directions. As a result, director Rachel Karp ’18 had an extraordinary amount of liberty—as well as a tremendous amount of work—in putting on this show as her studio lab. Karp truly had to craft her own vision of this piece, which worked at some points but was baffling at others.
By itself, the narrative is difficult to follow, and the decision to include a large number of characters made it an even greater challenge to keep up. Characters’ relationships to one another were unclear, and I was unsure if certain actors were supposed to be playing multiple roles. The neurotic nature of the story permits some haphazardness, but some parts were too nonsensical.
There was also, quite literally, a glaring flaw with the lighting. The lights seemed to fluctuate mid-scene and occasionally got so bright I had to look away from the stage. I cannot say whether this was a conscious choice that had a deeper purpose within the show, but as an audience member, it was incredibly distracting.
4.48 Psychosis may not have shined in the lighting department, but it did impress with its performances. It goes without saying that the source material is heavy stuff, but none of the actors seemed fazed. Miranda Park ’17 and Bianca Thompson ’19 had some particularly powerful scenes, and Taylor Goodwin ’20 stole the attention every time he was onstage. One scene I found especially effective was when pre-recorded audio played while the entire cast acted out what was being said. When a voice said “punch,” someone would punch; when a voice said “flicker,” someone would flick on a lighter. This bit suggested having voices in one’s head and, in my opinion, best portrayed the psychotic mind that Karp was trying to display.
Overall, 4.48 Psychosis tried to give us a view into a world of depression, but some experimental choices and technical glitches prevented a truly immersive experience.
Final Score: 6/10