‘Crave’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by June 4, 2016

‘Crave’ is a one-act play, the fourth by British playwright Sarah Kane who died 17 years ago. This rhythmical and compassionate play premiered 1998 Edinburgh, under the writer’s pseudonym of ‘Marie Kelvedon’ – chosen after the village of Kelvedon Hatch where Kane grew up. She even wrote a detailed life story for her penname.

Sarah Kane dedicated this, possibly her best piece, to the author Mark Ravenhill, another wonderful writer of a similar age and daring style. Ravenhill has described her writing as ‘achieving canonical status’.

This powerful and dark, 1-hour play is based around the pain found in love; it is recommended for audiences over 16 yrs. It is being presented by the highly driven, WA Youth Theatre Company in the Theatre Underground Studio, within the State Theatre Centre, Northbridge each evening at 7.30 pm until Saturday 11th June.

The lyrics, ‘An Echo, A Stain’ on Björk’s 2001 album ‘Vespertine’ are based on this play.

The director played occasional soft chords on a bass guitar as a backing.

 

Crave takes place in an abstract world. The four actors stand static and facing the audience, on a low dais. The lighting design was by Dylan Dorotich-O’Keefe.

The author did not provide context, stage directions or descriptions of the four characters. Simply known as A, B, C and M. ‘A’ having the main, larger passages.

 

The two cast alternated performances. I saw cast two.

A: was Declan Brown alternating with Luke Binetti,

B: was Odne Stenseth and George Ashforth

C: was Ally Harris and Katherine Langford

M: was Daisy Coyle and Megan Hollier

 

Directed by the company’s artistic director, Renato Fabretti is honoured and eager to present ‘Crave’, a conversation on mental health amongst four WA’s young adults. Renato was assisted in his directing by Eloise Carter.

This ground breaking work does not dodge the complexities and realities of mental health, but embraces them. Sarah Kane, who tragically suicided, asked that the players should not simply ‘act’ their parts, but in an advanced Mike Leigh style of acting, where they should live, experience and be totally absorbed by them, for weeks before performing.

The cast had a nightmare script that comprised mainly of short snappy sentences, being delivered almost at random from each of the four characters. This meant that the normal continuity and feeding each other a line disappeared. The topics and events – some real, some imagined – that each actor described included rape, incest, paedophilia, anorexia, drug addiction, mental instability, murder and suicide, all in an unsystematic manner and so the script had to be thoroughly learned to ensure flow.

The delivery was precise, the diction clear, the pace perhaps a little too fast but a great deal of admiration must go to the cast for never dropping a line or missing a beat. I did however find that the vocal range was limited in all four actors, and that another register or lower octave would have enhanced their feelings.

There was some emotion in the complex performances, but the real depth, inner suffering and anger at the misery perpetrated upon them did not really come through. Good performances, but not quite enough experience behind these young actors.

This week, another friend of the director, Kate Dickie (of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame) has just become a Scottish ambassador for Alzheimer’s.

Like all of Sarah Kane’s plays, this is a drama that demanded so much more of this bold cast of young performers – their honesty, sensitivity, courage and their SOULS.