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4:48 Psychosis

?At 4:48 when depression visits I shall hang myself to the sound of my lovers breathing?

From 4:48 Psychosis, by Sarah Kane

Last night I went to see 4:48 Psychosis, by British playwright Sarah Kane. It’s a beautiful poetic piece about suicidal depression and was written a few months before the author hanged herself in a mental hospital.

I went on my own. This had been my original intention, until at the last minute I decided to invite a couple of friends. That I still ended up at the theatre alone was the better outcome. I was a little worried about getting tickets as this was closing weekend and I’d worked at The Velveeta Room on Friday and Saturday, but the review in the previous week’s Chronicle said:

‘..its language is so brutal that it will push the happiest bystander (audience) into that dark room of despair.’

So I knew it wouldn’t be sold out.

Sitting in a row on my own I felt perfectly isolated. The opening line hit me hard:

‘What do you offer your friends to make them support you?’

For weeks I’ve been meaning to write about the friends I’ve made in Austin and how fortunate but bemused I feel to have their support. I haven’t found a way to express it without sounding desperate. But Sarah Kane pretty much encapsulated it all with that line and I had to force myself not to dwell on it and miss out on the rest.

There were two actors onstage. The victim and the perpetrator, who was at times her psychiatrist and doctor. Her intense relationship with her psychiatrist brought painful memories of my relationship with Rick, my last therapist and was unsettling but also weirdly reassuring, to the point that at times I wanted to yell out in recognition. Naturally I refrained. It’s the material that should be challenging, not the audience members.

At various points I cried for myself. It wasn’t so much crying as waiting until there was a loud moment where the actor would yell fuck you a few times so I could sniff and take a deep reviving breath.

I wish I could see it again. Theres so much dialogue that I know I missed. But maybe it’s better read than performed. I suppose suicide notes usually are.

For me, the play wasn’t depressing. It was about deep despair but the ability to create something so honest, powerful and beautiful from that despair is something I will always aspire to.

I was lying in bed last night, still thinking about it and trying to explain my feelings and some of the lines to Erik without making him worry about my mental state. That didn’t work. I got the urge to double-check my alarm, even though I haven’t changed the time for months. It was set for 4:48am.

That was about the time I finally fell asleep. will you do it?
take an overdose, slit my wrists, then hang myself
.. all those things together?
it couldn’t possibly be misconstrued as a cry for help

Sarah Kane. 4:48 Psychosis.