Watching Sarah Kane’s 50-minute four-hander about love, sex, desire, rejection and isolation is a mind-blowing experience. Apart from the fact that you need to watch it more than once, its simple staging and rapid machine-gun dialogue keeps you always on the edge of your seat.
On four separate platforms, which sometimes become treadmills, Alfred Enoch, Erin Doherty, Wendy Kweh and Jonathan Slinger are nameless characters searching for love, meaning, acceptance and peace in a world that resonates after 15 months of lockdown. Filmed in front of an audience at Chichester Festival Theatre in the lockdown gap last year, it’s now streaming once more on demand.
Kane is brilliant at pithy one-liners , and they often come in such quick succession that we are still figuring out the meaning and are overtaken by the next bons mots.
In a world reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s lost souls , memory and desire blend in this extraordinary rain forest downpour of words. Dissonant seemingly separate speeches somehow melt into one another , leaving us gasping at the power of the writer’s language – “If I could be free of you without having to lose you”, says one character. Then shockingly: “I’m not a rapist, I’m a paedophile”. Or how about: “you’ve fallen in love with a person who doesn’t exist…..I hate the smell of my own family… I never met a man I trusted… what’s anything got to do with anything?” I’m sure you get the idea.
And Kane works in well-worn cliches that have a new edge – “It’s not me, it’s you”. The variety of the piece is staggering considering its brevity – we get love letters, bitter memories, things the characters wished they’d said, and mental breakdowns .
Maybe the line “only love can save me, and love has destroyed me”, best sums up the puzzling nature of this piece – and the moral? It’s probably summed up in another one-liner: “No-one survives life”.
Whatever you make of it, it’s a great watch and Tinuke Craig directs it with sharpness, speed and in a film-like style , with large blow-up images of the characters behind them.
Crave is available on demand until May 29, CLICK HERE to see it.