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Sarah Kane Sarah Kan
more: links to cleansed


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click to go to link Fiachra Gibbons, Guardian, 4 March 1999

Kane was fascinated by rats and was hoping the director Peter Zadek could use live ones in his production of Cleansed. She also loved the tribal pull of football - she was a Man United fan and took a perverse delight in being hated for it.

Adam Jasper Smith

The play opens with a doctor, Tinker, cooking up heroin for his patient Graham. The dose, injected through the eye, is fatal. Although dead, Graham remains on stage: as corpse, as memory and as interlocutor. He is present without being gruesome. Graham’s sister, Grace, comes to Tinker’s clinic in search of her lost brother. Not finding him, she asks at the very least for his clothes, an act of commitment that results in her taking his place as the chief object of Tinker’s care.

Grace and Graham are not the only inhabitants of the clinic. Alongside them are 3 others: Rod and Carl are lovers, Robin is alone. They form no community. Each character is limited, as if by invisible interdict, to communicating either with the one they love or with Tinker. There is no solidarity amongst those in the sanatorium: they don’t so much refuse to identify with each other as appear completely unaware of each other’s existence. A state that renders them all the more alienated and vulnerable, desperately starved of love and cannibalising each other in search of it.

Grace’s fatal act of love for Graham is mirrored by others, such as the unconditional declaration of love by Carl for Rod. None of these demonstrations goes unpunished, and just as Grace will be sacrificed, Carl will have his tongue and limbs removed by the good Doctor.

Tinker is not so much a character as the force of the world that punishes us for excessive closeness. His acts of violence are carried out without perceivable pleasure. This is crucial to Andrews’ staging because violence itself is always a stimulant, and if overdone it would destroy the precise monotony of the performance. As a result, even the blood that flows during the performance is black.

Tinker is not really a character. At least, no more a character than the set itself—a field of blank concrete, a wall beyond which there is nothing to escape to. In the centre of the stage a circular therapeutic pool is set. It serves as both baptismal font and slaughterhouse drain.

--- Planet Sophie Annals (link has gone- www.planetsophie.com)

An on-line diary by an actress rehearsing Cleansed:

It’s time for me to start working on my movements and getting the lines down. I need to have a breakdown and collapse, get beaten and raped (with out being touched) and I need to have those at least partly choreographed before we start rehearsals.

click to go to link Lisa Rothschiller interviewed by Kate Zambreno, Newcity Chicago, 22 Mar 2001

Cleansed, a modern-day 1984, was supposedly based on the quote being in love is like being in Dachau. It tells the stories of society's undesirables, a gay couple, a mental patient, a grieving sister and her ghost brother, who struggle under the cruel, unrelenting torture of the sadistic and vicious Angel of Death-like warden, ironically named Tinker, after the London Times critic. Because "he has that same power, deciding who's going to live and who's going to die".

click to go to link

Nigel Edwards

Watching Sarah Kane's Cleansed was one of the most repellent experiences of my theatre-going life...

Miss Kane's trite visions of love as suffering, exaltation and escape keep being overwhelmed by the motiveless intrusion of violence. James Macdonald's well-acted production has the sumptuous, camp chic of James Bond films. The leather costumes are pure bad taste. The stylised violence - balloons bursting with paint when bodies are shot, or red ribbons for severed limbs - makes depravity look elegant rather than wicked.

click to go to link Matthew Cheney

Kane is not a playwright on the level of, for instance, Caryl Churchill, because she died, I think, before she had really developed into the writer she could and should have been. (And it's unfair to compare anyone to Caryl Churchill, who, if I were forced into the unfortunate corner of having to name the single greatest living playwright in the English language, would be my choice.) But Kane's work is remarkable, even though it is raw, even though it sometimes overreaches or strains for uncertain effect, even though an insensitive production can make the writing seem violent for its own sake. Nonetheless, there is a vitality and an energy to her work -- dare I say it, a moral energy -- that is certainly rare and nearly unique.

The effect of Kane's best plays is to eviscerate the audience. It is theatre that is not simply in yer face, nor is it merely brutal -- the effect is horrifying and jolting, but also numbing and absurd. It is the painful paradox of horror and apathy that fills Kane's plays with their fire.



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