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Audio Review: Since the Death of Sarah Kane at La Mama (15/04/15)


Trigger warning: This review contains content about violence and suicide
If you are affected by this content, know you can always call lifeline on 13 11 14

Created by Adam J A Cass and performed by Cass and Anna Kennedy.
Showing at La Mama Theatre until April 26 2015.
Review by Bethany Atkinson-Quinton.

This is a play that almost seems like it is afraid to be a play. It begins with a disclaimer by director and actor Adam J A Cass informing the audience that this play exists in its infancy, almost apologizing for the performance before it begins. Anna Kennedy and Cass organize the seats in the theatre while they introduce the story, playing up the casualness of their performance to come.

It is clear that Sarah Kane is one of Cass’ personal obsessions. He makes constant reference to his strong connection to the deceased playwright with whom he shared the same year of birth and the same depressive symptoms before her untimely death. Cass often makes mention to his last play based on Kane’s personal story and her works. They quickly show themselves as prerequisites to fully understanding the intricacies of this piece, making it hard as someone walking into the piece knowing little about Kane.

The play dips between purposefully casual story telling, enactment of Kane’s work and a hazy mix between the two. This murky nature of performance style is distracting and makes it hard for a viewer to decipher what is true and what is embellished, what is personal and what are Kane’s words.

The strongest monologue comes with Cass relaying the story of Sarah Kane’s attempted suicide and her battle with acknowledging and accepting the love of her friends. It is extremely succinct (despite him claiming otherwise) and powerful in its delivery.

Present throughout the entire performance is a red plasticine corpse of Sarah Kane. The presence of the corpse offers an interesting paradox as Cass and Kennedy spend the play rooted in the world of Kane’s life if she had lived- what if she didn’t die, what if she wrote more plays, what if she had cats, what if. It serves as a confronting reminder of her tragic death which made it hard to imagine any world where she lived on – stunting its power.

The most compelling element of the play is Kennedy casually picking shoelaces out of the plasticine corpse – the tool in which Kane used to hang herself. They appear bloody from the red colour. It only becomes clear at the end that Kennedy is creating a place for Kane’s body to lay – being supported in death by what took her life.

The play rarely demands ones full attention – as the meta-commentary lives as sharp reminders of the act of acting.

When Cass and Kennedy attempt to lay the bloody corpse into the hammock created by the shoelaces, it fails. An unfortunate accident to what is an otherwise powerful and confronting final gesture.

My rating: 2 ½ standing ovations out of 5


Bethany Atkinson-Quinton
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