A quick Google search will tell you that Interior: Panic is the prequel to Tennessee William’s masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire. As a huge fan of that play, I was thrilled to see this production and revisit one of my favorite flawed females. This show adds a whole new dimension and understanding to the infamous Blanche Dubois (Blanche Shannon here). Happily, Interior: Panic also stands well on its own so it can be appreciated by theater patrons of all backgrounds.
The Double Bill of Death is a pairing of very different one act horror-comedies, very light on horror/suspense and with much less death than you’d expect.
It starts with Knife 2: The Re-Slashening, the all too familiar story of a group of unlikely Breakfast Clubbed friends going out into the mountainous woods where happens to live whatever manner of thing that intends to kill them. It’s a parody of a trope that itself is already a parody and is so self-aware of that fact that even in its parody it doesn’t try to add anything to its cardboard cut-out synopsis. From the opening moments of the characters introducing themselves as their stereotyped caricatures to the often stilted dialogue, the plot (as it were) tries to fuel itself on one run of jokes after another and being funny for funny’s sake without actually trying to drive on a grounded narrative or bring life to its characters. Read the full review.
New company, Animaus Theatre, aims to give you a look inside the fractured psyche of a young woman dealing with depression in their remount of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis.
Should you see it
Among the definitions of raw are “painfully exposed” and “brutally frank” which both adequately describe the tone and themes of 4.48 Psychosis – written by British playwright Sarah Kane shortly before her own suicide. Ostensibly set in a mental institution, the play lays bare the tortured mind of Patient 448. 4.48 Psychosis abandons any traditional narrative sense, instead dealing in themes and imagery such as the effects of medication, causes of depression & desires of the depressed, self harm, and suicide. It’s effectively a 75-minute snapshot of the mind of somebody suffering with severe clinical depression.
The difficult thing when it comes to working with an abstract text is keeping an audience engaged without the safety net of a naturally embedded plot progression. The burden, more than ever, falls upon performance and directorial choices – which were exceptional here.
Lydia Riding was deeply entrancing as Patient 4.48, drawing you into the anguish and occasional peace of her troubled mind. After seeing a UOttawa production of If We Were Birds in 2012, I remrked that Lydia Riding and co-star Annik Welsh were stars. I said that we could expect great things from these two. With this performance by Riding and Welsh’s recent turn as the one-armed Herald in Marat/Sade ranking as two of the most memorable and forceful performances to hit Ottawa stages in a good while, I stand by that assessment.
Riding was well-supported by Aaron Williams as 448’s doctor and Alexandra Isenor as a shadow-aspect of 448’s psyche, allowing for interesting self-interactions.
Director Pamela Feghali presented a strong coherent vision, delivering 4.48 Psychosis with the house as observers in the asylum of 448’s mind. This is reflected not only in the performances of her actors and clever representative staging but also in her use of the space. Studio Lenoard Beaulne, like Riding and the psyche of Patient 448, was laid bare. It was made into a stark empty room, with no curtains or drapes or any of the acoutrements which denote live theatre. Even the tech booth was brought into the realiy of 4.48 Psyhosis through putting the SM and tech in lab coats, turning the space into an observation room.
While this style of theatre and this type of story-telling won’t be for everybody, I’m an advocate for and a fan of challenging work and hard drama and Animaus Theatre’s production of 4.48 Psychosis didn’t disappoint.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think? Could you get into 4.48 Psyhosis or did the lack of traditional narrative structure keep you from getting invested? Are you a fan of dark and challenging theatre? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.
If We Were Birds is a production by the University of Ottawa Drama Guild, meaning a student production. It’s a mature content advisory play that’s a harsh re-telling of a Greek myth dealing with rape and other brutalities. There’s no kid gloves here, and it’s challenging material. Read the full review.