Megan Scobie reviews Crave, written by Sarah Jane and directed by Joanna Bowman, which went up in the Barron Theatre on the 17th and 18th of February.
Crave, written by Sarah Kane and directed by Joanna Bowman, is intentionally a very ambiguous play, representative of minimalism at its best. The play was performed primarily in the dark, and it was not until the end of the show that we were able to see all four characters at once. This forces the audience to focus and listen to the two conversations that form the core of the play and explore the themes of desire, love, and heartache. Though uplifting, ambitious, and thought provoking, Crave hard to follow and understand. This was assuaged by the outstanding performances of the cast.
As a one-act play (totaling 45 minutes with no interval, which emphasized the tension and power of the script) with seemingly no plot or any stage directions, it is clearly meant to feel anonymous. No characters are named in the play but they are referred to as “C”, “B”, “A” and “M” – but even these letters are never used in the dialogue. Since the characters are anonymous, the audience cannot feel a connection to them as readily. Their existence with no identity forms into a powerful message of living in isolation and emptiness. It also means that we cannot fully understand the characters as we cannot entirely know them.
Each of the actors delivered his or her lines with tact and accuracy, making for an equally poetic and dramatic play. The performances from all four cast members were strong, dedicated, and profound. Emma Taylor, as M, was perfectly cast as the older woman: hard-edged but vulnerable, worn but still exciting. Her younger man – Bernie Munro as B – effectively portrayed naïveté and the longing to be loved. As the young woman, C, Sarah Pollock gave a performance that balanced the character’s inexperience and confusion. But it is Angus Russell, as A, the only character given a long monologue, that left a lasting impression on the audience with his commanding yet broken character rendition.
As the audience piled in and settled down, Joanna Bowman had the four cast members sit at a table with their heads bowed. When the play began the lights were completely switched off and the first half of the play was performed in darkness. Gradually, a table lamp in front of each character was switched on until we could see all four characters. At the end of the play, an intense and very bright light came on to reveal all four characters clearly. This harsh and severe stage light intensified the feelings of the characters – primarily their heartache and pain – for the play’s conclusion.
The lack of physical interaction and the bare stage enhanced the complicated nature and themes of the play and isolated the audience from the cast. Such feelings are common in experiences involving rape, incest, drug addiction, and pedophilia; and all these themes come up in the play. The bare stage especially put all the focus and spotlight on the voices and characters of the cast.
Joanna Bowman portrayed Kane’s work to the audience in an understandable and exquisite way. Crave left me moved and thoughtful; it is a play I would definitely recommend.
Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/events/1517256708300656/