Get our free email newsletter with just one click

4.48 Psychosis review at New Diorama Theatre – ‘a striking bilingual production’

The cast of 4.48 Psychosis at New Diorama, London. Photo: Becky Bailey
by -

People have played around with Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis before – it was adapted by Philip Venables for the Royal Opera two years ago – but Paula Garfield’s production for Deafinitely Theatre is particularly ambitious. It stages Kane’s savage, wordy final play in two languages at once: spoken English and BSL.

The play is divided up between four performers – two D/deaf patients and two hearing doctors. The text is chopped up between all of them, always signed, sometimes spoken, occasionally subtitled in fading projections.

Does it work? To an extent. It’s a dense and impenetrable staging at times, but then 4.48 Psychosis is a dense and impenetrable play, full of scattergun rage, violent frustration, and bitter humour. A torrent of feeling, often directionless but always intense.

Deafinitely’s production doesn’t capture all of the play’s nuances – its impact depends partly upon the rhythm of the play’s language – but Garfield’s direction is never less than lively, and it’s quite ingenious how she engineers the shape of Kane’s writing into short, signed scenes and skits.

Her production takes place entirely inside a Perspex-fronted box, a glass case of emotion, washed with colour by Joe Hornsby.

The two patients – Adam Bassett and Brian Duffy – howl and writhe with despair. The two doctors – Jim Fish and Matt Kyle – tease them in a patronising, expressionless monotone.

The production doesn’t always work, but it opens up this complex, potent play to an underserved audience.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Striking but slightly disjointed bilingual production of Sarah Kane’s febrile final play