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no matter what form it takes. Artistic Director and founder of Rough Magic theatre company. played by Maeliosa Stafford. Barnes staged the execution with Christy tethered to a horse harness. avant-garde staging of the highly commercial. The Globe Theater’s Twelfth Night. served to highlight the villagers’ desperation for any sort of romantic escape. His appearance at ﬁrst evoked the familiar.
For the past three years UCLAlive has brought Los Angeles audiences a number of important international performances. normally a lily-livered caricature. comically short pants. Yet Lawlor’s animal-like appearance in the play’s beginning. Royal Court Theatre. the walls rotated ninety degrees to form one long upstage wall. canonical text to redeﬁne Irish theatre as it looks forward. Tom Vaughan Lawlor marked a departure as Christy. The brace supports for the stage walls were left visible to the audience and a gaping. thus reinvigorating it with some of its original controversy. The set design inventively realized this presentation. Cathy Belton (Pegeen Mike) and Olwen Fouere (Widow Quinn) made interesting contrasts. Additional casting decisions were inspired. featuring a faithfully grimy representation of a Mayo cottage split in half. UCLA Campus. the other characters restricting his movement with ropes. thrashing around on the stage ﬂoor. The 2004 International Theatre Series at UCLA featured a number of notable productions.
. Directed by James Macdonald. The innovative production received only lukewarm reviews from the New York press in general. Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker and the Royal Court Theatre’s production of Sarah Kane’s ﬁnal work. but spoke more clearly to the theatre company’s attempt to use a deﬁning. A patterned frame surrounding the scrim suggested a forced proscenium perspective. a series of choreographed works from Lyon Opera Ballet. Westwood. By Sarah Kane. only to have their surprising fascination transform him into a conﬁdent. yet his slowly choreographed entrances and intermittent clanging of cymbals also suggested a Brechtian distanced presentation of a signiﬁed “Irish” product. began his Playboy with an onstage reading of Synge’s introduction by a clownish ﬁgure replete with cymbals.
DEIRDRE O’LEARY CUNY Graduate Center
4:48 PSYCHOSIS. then nearly impossible when compared to the commanding physical presence of his father. This “authentic” staging of 4:48 Psychosis. was played against type as a man as opportunistic and conniving as Christy Mahon or the Widow Quinn. The stylized movement of the set served the director’s purpose to highlight the decrepit and thoroughly familiar Mayo cottage as an artiﬁcial construction easily dismantled. the shebeen’s walls rotated back again to their original position. and red-and-white-striped stockings. swaggering playboy. red-nosed stage Irishman of Boucicault. presented by UCLAlive at the Freud Playhouse. soft-bellied physique making his tale of murdering his father with one blow to the head if not unlikely. the Abbey Playboy was notable for its attempt to re-infuse the canonical play with attention to its much darker elements. and the Berliner Volksbühne production of Dostoevsky’s The Insulted and the Injured. his face and arms nearly black with dirt and coal. such as Cheek by Jowl’s Othello. as the actresses are near enough in age to suggest very clearly what Pegeen Mike’s life will be if she does not marry. To aid this inventive sequence. 4:48 Psychosis. In the play Christy Mahon confesses his crime to the lonely villagers. the two walls arranged approximately forty feet apart. including Robert Wilson and Tom Wait’s Woyzeck. his body twisted from walking for eleven days. back-lit scrim suggested a bleak emptiness beyond the cottage door. and a harsh one from the New York Times. The town’s eventual rejection and attempted execution of Christy provided the production with its darkest elements. canonical work didn’t always succeed. weighing public service against the sense of mischief that theatre making has to have. California. Lynne Parker. wholly artiﬁcial and decidedly cinematic. spoke at the January talks of the precarious balancing act a public institution like the Abbey must perform. 4 November 2004. expanding the production’s broad performance space. The Abbey Theatre’s 2004 production had elements of both. featuring the original cast and production team. Andrew Bennet’s Shawn Keogh. While the stylized. After the clown’s cymbalic punctuation. his small frame and slight. was brought to the United States by the Royal Court in an effort to expose American audiences to Kane’s work and to the type of new drama the company has been producing for over ﬁfty years. the role of the playboy is more often acted by a hopelessly attractive and strong actor. Despite Synge’s text deﬁning Christy as a coward.298 / Performance Review
European touring productions to Ireland as well as inventive productions of canonical texts.
Photo: Dan Merlo. lists. her plays have been prominently featured in major state theatres of Germany and Eastern Europe since her death in February 1999.
Though Kane’s work is seldom produced in the United States. The Royal Court’s production brought together Kane’s complex. strong ensemble acting. Completed just one week before the playwright’s suicide. Marin Ireland.PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Cast members Jason Hughes. just before dawn when the distress of a sleepless night yields to a brief moment of clarity. and well-conceived staging and design
. and references that suggest the playwright’s psychotic mental state and the unsettling memories of her existence. courtesy of Royal Court Theatre. The work is a fragmented view of Kane’s presuicide world: a collage of thoughts. the work contains a number of unspeciﬁed characters. conversations and other random bits of information. 4:48 Psychosis was originally presented at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in June 2000. stream-of-consciousness
style. The title refers to the time of the morning. multilayered text. 4:48 am. and Jo McInnes in Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis. Written in a free-form. voices.
The actors delivered much of the text without expression. Other effects included videotape of a distorted aerial view of people walking on the street.
STEVE EARNEST California State University.
A pattern exists in contemporary drama of peeling back the layers of self until some unacknowledged truth about the character is laid bare. Physically the actors engaged in frenetic walking patterns. (presumably) outside the hospital. strong performances and inventive staging characterized the Royal Court production. reﬂections and severe lighting angles enhanced 4:48 Psychosis’s visual elements. A few writing instruments and a pad of paper completed the short list of physical stage properties. All of these effects visually manifested the fragmentation. a
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choices. who was discovered hanging by her shoelaces in a hospital bathroom. initial sections of the play were spoken with a sardonic. The design team of Jeremy Herbert (scenery and stage properties). Clearly. 15 October 2004. Connecticut. By David Hare. body positions. cynical rejecting quality. who instead pursues the ethical ramiﬁcations of personal choices within speciﬁc social contexts: Chinese peasants reacting to the cultural revolution (Fanshen). and numbers were written. and through that visual dynamic the message began to function on multiple levels. ﬂoating. hanging. Onstage properties were those referenced in the text: a table and two chairs. Multiple projectors. as if they were standing outside the text and ridiculing it. at other times they would ﬁnish each other’s sentences. Cast members Jason Hughes. The production limited footage to the recurring projection of a busy street somewhere in England. The absence of deﬁned characters and situations in 4:48 Psychosis permits a number of options with regard to acting approach. Staging choices seemed as random as the lines of the text. lists. a number of people were visibly (and audibly) moved by the performance and after the production there was an inexplicable sense of shock in the theatre. with all character actions.” The stage set consisted of a large mirrored surface suspended from the stage at a 45-degree angle. yet the absence of clear patterns supported the internal exploration of Kane’s desperate state of being. stared blankly at the ceiling. and Jo McInnes utilized several tones in their delivery of the text. The interplay between the characters also emerged as an important aspect of the production. The table also doubled as the central character’s hospital bed and as a writing desk onto which random thoughts. Artistic director David Sefton and the staff of UCLAlive are to be commended for their bold vision of bringing work of this nature to Los Angeles. sometimes all three actors would speak a sentence simultaneously. Directed by Michael Wilson. Hartford Stage. audience members vacillated between laughter (Kane’s fabled gallows humor) and tears. and answer one other’s questions. and Paul Arditti (sound) created an environment that effectively communicated Kane’s world—both the literal one of her hospital stays and the abstract world of her “prison. build sentences together. San Bernardino
THE BAY AT NICE. and internal blurriness of the psychotic mind. The actors performed other sections of the text—several of the extended monologues in particular—in character. another visual reference to the playwright. allowing the audience to see the action from both in front and above. Characters lying on the ﬂoor appeared to be suspended midair. Not so for playwright Sir David Hare. rocked back and forth silently. Hartford. however. with the table placed so that its reﬂected surface in the mirror above became a window onto which video projections could occur. Director James Macdonald’s staging choices were precise. and watching from above. The dominant physical position of 4:48 Psychosis was supine—actors lying either on their backs or face down in utter resignation. and the letters RSVP ASAP in a font large enough to dominate the entire playing area of the stage. At the UCLA performance. and chain-smoked. and images contributing to the metaphor of the prison/hospital room. though it may be argued that the nature of the text was best served through that style of speaking. Horizontal gaps in the mirrored surface created the effect of a prison cell as shadows of four long “bars” appeared from top to bottom of the stage surface. Patterns of speaking the text were varied. Nigel Edwards (lighting). The production gradually trained the audience to watch the action in the mirrored surface. a fuzzy television screen. a sense of ﬂat-line numbness pervaded much of the play. Marin Ireland. the real power of 4:48 Psychosis rests within the text itself. random associations. One stage composition found all three performers lying on the ﬂoor as if hanging by “ropes” created by the gaps in the mirrored surface. with a great depth of emotional intensity.