Fringe review of 4.48 Psychosis
I went to go see a Fringe play tonight directed by a dear friend of mine, Kendra Jones. She took on the extremely dark and often put on the back burner subject of mental illness by directing the play called “4.48 Psychosis” by the late Sarah Kane who took her own life in 1998.
Liz Whitbread played this unnamed woman who was extremely depressed, anxiety ridden with such force and brutality (in a good way) that I’m sure that most of the audience felt her pain as she cried out for help, withering around in her space on the floor. I watched her in some very uncomfortable positions (at one time you could see her calf muscles tighten because of how far she was pointing her toes) as the “voices” kept going, telling her things that she unfortunately had no control over because of the anxiety and depression. I honestly felt her character’s pain, knowing how she felt in certain scenes because of my personal experiences and seeing close family members who live with mental illness suffer in an episode.
Kendra’s vision of the setting was simple, open for interpretation but all it had were 4 pieces of wood, attached by hinges that were at first left open, in a shape of the number seven. Symbolizing that she was open to get help, open to talking. As the play goes on, she closes the shape into a rectangle that I saw as her bed, she was closing everyone out, she was shutting down. In the corner of the staged area, there was a looping machine and a microphone. She would say certain words, phrases and loop them over and over as she was clearly in distress. The sound design was chilling with deafening silence at points, and muddled sounds on repeat; the sound that one with a mental illness might experience in their own heads.
A quote that really stuck out for me: “Please. Don’t switch off my mind by attempting to straighten me out. Listen and understand, and when you feel contempt don’t
express it, at least not verbally, at least not to me.”
If you’re in need of help, please know that it is out there. Contact a trusted friend, your doctor or your local suicide hotline. You’re never alone.
The play runs until Saturday with shows tomorrow, Friday and Saturday at RRC on William (venue 11). But be aware, if you’re in a dark place mentally, I wouldn’t suggest seeing it as it’s extremely dark.