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Theatermania
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David
Gordon

October 20, 2014

When Robin Williams took his own life earlier this year, we collectively wondered how such a brilliant mind could be driven to a pit of deep despair. Depression is a serious illness, one that creeps up when you least expect it. It doesn’t care who you are or how successful you are. It just wants to eat you alive. Some insight into this disease is granted in Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis, a gut-punching exploration of clinical depression first produced in 2000, a year after its young author committed suicide. The jagged-edged drama takes its title from the darkest point of the day, 4:48am, when Kane would often find herself awakened from her slumber. With no stage directions or delineated characters, her text is open for interpretation. In the hands of director Grzegorz Jarzyna and Poland’s TR Warszawa at St. Ann’s Warehouse 4:48 Psychosis is a traumatic, almost unwatchable experience. Jarzyna rearranges the original script and finds a mostly coherent throughline, at the center of which is an unnamed blonde protagonist (Magdalena Cielecka) who could stand in for Kane herself (the play is believed to be semiautobiographical). “I am sad,” she says, peering out from the darkness. “I feel that the future is hopeless and things cannot improve.” Can’t eat. Can’t sleep. Can’t make love to her significant other (Katarzyna Herman). What doctors prescribe just numbs the senses. There’s only one way out.

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New York Post
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Elisabeth
Vincentelli

October 20, 2014

Quick: Who’s one of the most produced contemporary playwrights in Europe? The answer is Sarah Kane, whose small output belies her iconic status in her native England and especially on the continent. The last thing she wrote, 4:48 Psychosis, has become especially popular. Which is staggering considering the one-act piece is a bleak, nihilistic exploration of the mind of a woman about to commit suicide — as Kane herself did, in 1999. She was 28. The first words of the play are “I am sad.” It’s all downhill from there. Interest in Kane has been growing steadily stateside, brokered by Soho Rep’s hit version of Blasted — a howler featuring rape and cannibalism. Now St. Ann’s Warehouse is bringing over a Polish version (with English subtitles) of 4:48 Psychosis that’s proving to be quite the hot ticket.

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October 20, 2014

The basic strategy is as simple as it is devastating: Go ahead, open up that sealed room; let some light into the darkness. Then watch helplessly as the darkness devours the light. That’s the operating theory behind the TR Warszawa company’s stunning reinvention of 4:48 Psychosis, Sarah Kane’s sustained suicide note of a play, which opened on Sunday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. As adapted and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, this Polish-language (and language-transcending) production ropes its audience into unconditional engagement with a baleful, private spectacle of self-destruction. “See me,” says its unnamed heroine, fully and unflinchingly embodied by the brilliant Magdalena Cielecka. “Touch me.” The words are a taunt, since she is so far beyond our reach. The final work from Kane, a prodigiously gifted British dramatist who hanged herself in 1999 at the age of 28, 4:48 Psychosis would have seemed to be all but unstageable. It is written in fragments, in phrases of disgust and despair and recrimination, annotated with specific dosage numbers for prescription drugs used to treat depression.

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