>constant craving by nus theatre studies programme
>reviewed by sherrie lee
9 nov 2001
Taking on Sarah Kane as a final year project was a bold move. The playwright's intense dialogue and unsanitised version of reality could have been clumsily handled or badly (mis)interpreted by the audience. While both happened to a certain extent, the final-year students of the NUS Theatre Studies Programme nonetheless did good by sharing the world of Sarah Kane with the public.
Kane was an explosive young talent whose year-end student showcase piece 'Blasted', which dramatises the brutalising effects of civil war on western society, brought her to the attention of a London agent. Her subsequent plays continued to receive mixed responses of condemnation and praise. On 20 February 1999 at the ripe old age of 28, Kane hanged herself. Within the short span of her playwriting career, Kane ripped apart the veneer of sensibility, good manners and rationality.
The choice of 'Phaedra's Love' and 'Crave' showed off Kane's deft manipulation of greek tragedy on the one hand, and her sensitivity to the vulnerability of the human spirit on the other.
>>'The NUS Theatre Studies Programme did good by sharing the world of Sarah Kane with the public.'
Less than what could have been was also the mob (who were no Greek chorus) and Theseus (Zachary Ho). Hard to blame Ho since Theseus suddenly appears at the end to slug it out with his son and rape his stepdaughter.
In view of that, 'Crave', could have been perceived as an agonising journey through four streams of consciousness, admittedly aggravated by a lack of visual distraction in the form of uniform white costumes and a total reliance on the voices of the four characters, not all strong enough to sustain the roller coaster journey of spilling guts.
The 4 voices/characters, A (Zachery Ho), B (Colin Cheong), C (Joyce Yao) and M (Koh Wan Ching) represented (as found out later in the programme book) an Abuser/Author/Anarchist who longs to love and be loved (A), a Boy who yearns for love (B), a Child who faced a traumatic childhood (C), and a Mother, an older woman who wishes for a child (M).
like a pairing of A & C and B & M but one could never really be
sure with the dialogues, or rather, monologues made up of poetic fragments
and recurring motifs. 'Crave' was both engaging and disengaging. It attracted
the audience's attention to each individual's obsessions and on/off relationships
with one another. But it also alienated those who sought clarity though
the mess of confessions. Not a play to illicit quick emotions, 'Crave'
challenges both actors and audiences; for the actors to fulfill the potential
of linguistically charged emotions and for the audience to leave convention
behind and partake of Kane-defined climaxes and denouements.