Postcard artwork for 4:48 Psychosis


By Sarah Kane
Directed by Natalie Novacek
August 29 - September 7, 2008
The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

Id - Shira Levenson
Ego - Danielle Siver
Superego - Mickalace Wright

Stage Manager - Katrina Johnston AD/ASM - Emilia Aghamirzai Set Design - Natalie Novacek Lighting Design - Ariel Pinkerton Costume Design - Laura Leffler-McCabe Sound Design - Brenna Deegan Video Design - Paulina Jurzec Publicity / Box Office - Claire Avitabile

This activity was made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council through an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature.


Lavender Magazine Review - On the Townsend
Outstanding Ensemble in 2008 Year in Review - Lavender Magazine

STAR TRIBUNE Review by Graydon Royce 8.29.08

The back story makes "4:48 Psychosis" a compelling theatrical document. Playwright Sarah Kane, wrestling with the black dog of depression, etched her script as a poem without character names or stage directions. It is clear that these were the words of a person spiraling into a suicidal hole from which she would not recover. And in fact, Kane had taken her life by the time the play was first produced.

As compelling as that context is, "4:48" sets a high bar for performance. A winning production requires firm purpose and a clear-eyed grasp of how Kane's profane and scalding play will translate into humanity when channeled through an actor. Director Natalie Novacek has taken a stab at it for 20% Theatre Company. Her staging at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis guides three actors through a largely metaphoric and psychological exercise that rarely swirls with the chaos of sadness. Held at arm's length, the show exists primarily as information with little transformative power on the viewer.

Novacek imagines her three principals as id, ego and super ego. The battle is thus interior and we see these elements vying for attention: the childish desires, the rational cool of reason and the passion of dreams. Throughout all the musing, the playwright's words drip with self-loathing.

"Do you think it's possible to be born in the wrong body?" she asks in a poignant moment of self-awareness. "I have no desire for death. No suicide ever has."

It's loaded dialogue, but by confining the action within the psyche, Novacek and her actors settle for abstract proclamation, rather than a sense of real, breathing flesh. Occasionally, a physical flurry will break the clinical recitation but it's too easy to maintain an emotional distance -- always the bane of high-concept art. Could you put these words into the mouths of actual people? Can you create character from this difficult script? Granted, it is not easy, but that's the rugged route Kane requires. Otherwise, we have words on a page to be mused upon in the head. And you needn't go to the theater to do that.


Photos by Claire Avitabile

Still from 4:48 Psychosis
Still from 4:48 Psychosis