Crave

Mon 20th – Fri 24th August 2018

reviews

Lauren James

at 09:28 on 23rd Aug 2018

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It is hard to find the words to do The Collingwood Woodplayers’ production of Sarah Kane’s ‘Crave’ justice. High intensity and completely absorbing from start to finish, I barely had time to catch my breath. Undoubtedly, this is one of the Fringe’s triumphs.

Set in an unnamed city, the play follows the painfully emotional demise of four characters, A, B, C and M. Broad themes range from rape, anorexia, suicide and paedophilia. However, reducing the play’s subtleties to such a simplistic description does not capture the brilliance of Kane’s honest portrait of human fragility.

The four cast members are sensational. By dispersing themselves amongst the audience throughout the play, we are unavoidably swept up into their uniquely harrowing stories from the offset as they turn and look into our eyes, pleading for some response. Owen Sparkes’ monologue as A is one of the most beautiful pieces of theatre I have ever watched. His delivery of Kane’s poetry on the agonies of love is mesmerising genius. Perhaps this is why I have never before seen so many audience members reduced to tears at the end of a performance.

‘Crave’ marked a stylistic departure for Kane in that its dialogue is poetically non-linear. Whilst initially, this takes time to adjust to, its disjointedness fuels the pace of the script, mirroring the mental instability of her characters. Further, the Woodplayers’ decision for minimalist production allows us to immerse ourselves fully in the emotional torment before us. Airless as the SpaceTriplex might be, it is the perfect venue for such a play in which there is no respite from the brutal rawness with which we are confronted through the complexities of the human condition.

By the play’s end, the entire spectrum of human emotion has been laid bare. As the lights go up, the audience sits for a moment, numb, in an attempt to process the previous 50 minutes. The trauma of this production is unmissable and unforgettable. ‘Crave’ is theatre at its most devastating.

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Jessica Loram

at 09:33 on 23rd Aug 2018

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Woodplayer’s ‘Crave’ is an impressive exploration of emotion, trauma and communication. The intimate venue at the SpaceTriplex studio is the perfect setting for this tender and harrowing play that delves into the inner worlds of four anonymous individuals, and unravels in the form of distinct, but effectively intertwining, monologues. Sat amongst the audience are the cast members: they announce their presence in turn through fragmented sentences that together weave a devastatingly honest drama, and take to the stage.

At first, the script’s structure feels very unfamiliar and strange, but this is partly what makes ‘Crave’ so powerful: the play refuses, point blank, to offer any emotional comfort or relief. It quickly comes apparent that there are no easy connections to be forged between each character or narrative and, as spectators, we have no choice but to accept this, and step into the unknown. Surprisingly, though, I would describe my experience of ‘Crave’ as an active one; in listening to the innermost, gravest confessions, we become confidants and, in turn, embroiled emotionally in the ordeals expressed by each character. The characters' anonymity – their names are simply the letters A, B, C and M, according to the cast list – preserves the play’s overriding sense of disconnection. We are privy to the disturbing clockwork ticking beneath the surface of each individual’s mind, but are not granted full explanations of their stories that touch on - and are not limited to – rape, eating disorder, incest, drug addiction and suicide.

The script's fragmentation is broken by a breath-taking monologue, delivered by Owen Sparkes. I think this will be my most memorable moment of the 2018 Fringe. Wracked with a desperate anguish, Sparkes’ performance is so stunning and convincing that the introduction of music leaves me with goose bumps.

Exposed, with nowhere to hide on stage, the four-part cast manage to sustain the psychological grit and vulnerability demanded by ‘Crave’, which is no mean feat. So if you’re prepared to be enveloped by an unyieldingly intense and violent world, make sure to catch the Woodplayers’ heartfelt performance.

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