The Kane I “Crave”

A- “There’re worse things than being fat and fifty.” / “Being dead and thirty.”

How about dead and just weeks shy of 28?

As my appreciation of Sarah Kane’s plays continues to grow, I find my frustration with her death mounting, also.

I want more Kane.  But this is a craving that will go unfulfilled, obviously, much like the forever elusive/illusive wishes of C, M, B, and A in Crave. In this play, which was premiered on August 13, 1998, by Paines Plough at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, even those who seek death as a final fulfillment are warned that what precedes and follows cessation of life is virtually the same: a purgatory of repetition. Not much satiety in that. At the level of dialogue, we hear the characters repeat–perseverate–certain lines.  No matter what they say or do, getting unstuck proves impossible.

Below are some other striking lines and exchanges from Crave that highlight the play’s (dark) humor, incisive critique of human behavior, psychological depth, and sheer honesty (The teacher in me knows that’s not really a parallel-structured list.):

A- “You’re never as powerful as when you know you’re powerless.”

C- “I hate the smell of my own family.”

B- “You look reasonably happy for someone who’s not.”

M- “I don’t want to die alone and not be found till my bones are clean and the rent overdue.”

A- “Only love can save me and love has destroyed me.”

M- “There’s something very unflattering about being desired when the other person is so drunk they can’t see.”

C- “I’ve faked orgasms before, but this is the first time I’ve faked not having an orgasm.”  (C experienced pleasure while being raped.)

C- “You can only kill yourself if you’re not already dead.”

C- “If I die here I was murdered by daytime television.”

M- “Do you ever hear voices?     B- “Only when they talk to me.”

B- “Estas astravesada como el dia Miercoles.”  [Transaltion: “You are like a Wednesday.”]    Ha!

5 Responses to “The Kane I “Crave””
  1. thenextstage says:

    She really gets stuck in you, doesn’t she? In October of 2007 I wrote a post on Sarah ( It remains the number one most read post after four years of running the blog. Amazing.

  2. nstodard says:

    Ha, yes, Simon, she does. It’s interesting because she is not necessarily a playwright whose work I would have been drawn to, say, a decade ago. The longer you live the more you experience, both good and bad, and I was, for a long time, well, a scaredy cat. I shied away from the dark and heavy, knew it existed in the world, and in literature,etc., but didn’t want to feel the pain. Watching my sister suffer for years with cancer, then watching her die, has been a major turning point for me. (She was a psychologist-and no doubt her grappling with people’s mental health has rubbed off on me, too, and informs my interest in Kane.) Anyway, now I’m drawn to darker matters, heavier matters, try to confront rather than fear them, and try to glean some light or wisdom from it all. I’ll be sure to check out your post.

  3. When I read Sarah Kane I think, ‘I’m never going to be able to write like that.’ And then I think I’m rather grateful I I don’t have the demons inside to write like that. I’ve never read another playwright who’s work has stuck with me, or repelled me all at the same time. It’s startling, and it’s good to be startled sometimes.

  4. Esther says:

    A theater company in my area is doing “4:48 Psychosis” and I’m very torn about whether to see it. I just think I’d feel a bit like a voyeur. It would be different if it were a fictional story. But hearing the innermost thoughts of someone in the throes of mental illness shortly before they killed themselves – well it’s almost unseemly. Makes me a tad uncomfortable. I don’t know.

  5. Julia Brown says:

    Esther, you will be a voyeur – but I think we always are to some extent. What seems ‘fictional’ often isn’t. How do we view Chekhov’s plays when we know about his life? Much of Kane’s work is about imploding the barriers between ‘public’ and ‘private’. Maybe read it if you haven’t (or read it again) and then decide?

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