home plays overview hot news shop best scene much more discuss all the sites español português
Sarah Kane Sarah Kan4.48psychosis


"At 4.48 when sanity visits"


Play  4.48 Psychosis
Premiere 23 June 2000 in the Royal Court (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs), London.
Characters Not specified.

The premiere used three actors.  Other interpretations use from one to many actors.

Staging Not specified.
Scenes 19 scenes, no interval.
Overview Scene 1:.

Scene 3:


Scene One But you have friends

The helper tries to motivate and draw the patient out but receives no reply.

The scene is repeated within Scene Twenty Three.


Scene Two a consolidated conciousness

A difficult scene.  The patient reveals the torment in her mind.  The image of cockroaches is used, and will come back later.  A seething mass of cockroaches reflects the dark thoughts going on in the patient's head.  The thoughts are deep in the mind, like in a darkened banqueting hall

The broken hermaphrodite is someone confused about their own sexuality.


a hermaphrodite is a mix of himself and herself.
hermself is a mix of himself and herself.
remember the light and believe the light/ an instant of clarity before eternal night
from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.  When confronted with the light, if we can move into the light and accept it, birth and death become irrelevant (also appears in Crave.


Scene Three I am sad

The patient is depressed and in despair .  The patient has "lost interest in other people" but at the same time "cannot overcome my loneliness".

A brother and a male lover are mentioned by the patient.

Whereas the lover can sleep under the influence of drugs (induced unconciousness), the patient cannot sleep


induced unconciousness
drugs causing sleep.


Scene Four 100, 84, 91

As a test of how lucid a patient is, they may be give a test such as count down from 100 in steps of seven.  Here the patient cannot do it.  Later in Scene Twenty the patient is lucid enough to give the numbers correctly.

In some performances the numbers are not spoken but written.


Vocabulary ---


Scene Five It wasn't for long


Scene Six Have you made any plans

The helper and patient talk together "Who are you blaming? / Myself".




Scene Seven Body and soul can never be married



the sword in my dreams
"sharp weapons of every kind... knives, daggers, spears, sabres... represent the characteristic of penetrating or injuring the body" from Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Symbolism of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud.
the dust of my thoughts
perhaps a reference to Sir Walter Raleigh's letter to his wife, written just before he expected to die "You shall now receive (my dear wife) my last words in these my last lines. My love I send you that you may keep it when I am dead, and my council that you may remember it when I am no more. I would not by my will present you with sorrows (dear Besse) let them go to the grave with me and be buried in the dust."


Scene Eight RSVP ASAP





Scene Nine Sometimes I turn around

The patient talks of her desperate love for someone, and the despair because the other person does not love her back ("I cannot believe that I can feel this for you and you feel nothing").




Scene Ten Oh dear, what's happened to your arm

The helper and patient talk together "And you don't think you're ill? / No. / I do.  It's not your fault.  But you have to take responsibility for your own actions".



Scene Eleven I dread the loss of her I never touched



My love, my love why have you forsaken me
The bible, Matthew 27:46 "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me".


Scene Twelve No ifs or buts





Scene Thirteen abstraction to the point of



drowning in a sea of logic/ this monstrous state of palsy
compare the bible, Matthew 9 "And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came to his own city.  And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.  And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?".


Scene Fourteen Symptons: Not eating

It could be the doctor is reading the case notes and history of medication.  But given the occassional unprofessional language "discontinued after patient got pissed off with the side effects" it is more likely to be the patient either reading from a chart (and adding her own words) or quoting her own history from memory.


sleep with a dog and rise full of fleas
Italian proverb.


Scene Fifteen Hatch opens

Mum .


spirits of sight
La Vita Nuova, XI, Dante translated from the Italian by Mark Musa "when she was about to greet me, one of Love's spirits, annihilating all others of the senses, would drive out the feeble spirits of sight saying 'Go and pay homage to your mistress,' and Love would take their place".


Scene Sixteen I gassed the Jews





Scene Seventeen We are anathema



it shall come to pass
The bible, Zechariah 14:6 "it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark".
gird yourselves, for ye shall be broken in pieces
The bible, Isaiah 8:9.
behold the light of despair/ the glare of anguish/ and ye shall be driven to darkness
The bible, Isaiah 8:22 "and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness."
if there be blasting
The bible, Chronicles 6:28 "If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillars; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be."
shouted from the rooftops
The bible, Matthew 10:26 "Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
a scall on my skin
The bible, Leviticus 13:34 "And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall: and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean".
my noisome breath
Goetia, Astaroth 29 "The Twenty-ninth Spirit is Astaroth. He is a Mighty, Strong Duke, and appeareth in the Form of an hurtful Angel riding on an Infernal Beast like a Dragon, and carrying in his right hand a Viper. Thou must in no wise let him approach too near unto thee, lest he do thee damage by his Noisome Breath".
The bible, Psalms 35:15 "But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not".
let us reason together
The bible, Isaiah 1:18.
burn incense unto Baal
The bible, Jeremiah 11:13 "ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal".
the mountain of the Lord's house
The bible, Isaiah 2:2 "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it".
Scene Eighteen At 4.48 when sanity visits



engine of sorcery
C.S. Lewis The Silver Chair.


Scene Nineteen Hatch opens



dancing on glass
Motley Crue song Dancing on Glass "I've been thru hell/ and I'm never goin' back/ to dancing on glass".  Site visitor Stefano adds "there is a song by The Creatures (from the album Feast, 1983) with the same title which might be prior to the Motley Crue one. Besides, I remember in Conrad´s story Typhoon the anecdotal tale about a former sailor working at the coal furnace who lost a bet: he bet he would not cut his feet if jumping on broken glasses, but it was some 5 years he stopped his work, hence he cut his feet, not anymore hardened by the coal heat."


Scene Twenty 100





Scene Twenty-One Sanity is found at the centre of convulsion





Scene Twenty-Two to achieve goals and ambitions





Scene Twenty-Three You've seen the worst of me

Scene One is repeated here.




Scene Twenty-Four Fattened up



as deep as forever
possibly song Wife by Toyah "Big big tears/ By the bright blue sea/ As deep as forever/...This is a comedy in three acts/...Sweat drips off my brow/ I know my lines, my moves/ My place in life/ And it's ticking away/ I'm not going on tonight/ That insecure feeling/ A void of nothing-ness/ I'm dripping away".
the chicken's still dancing/ the chicken won't stop
the quote is from the Herzog film Stroszek.  It was the last film seen by Joy Division singer Ian Curtis before he committed suicide.  As a tribute the words are scratched into the vinyl of the posthumously released LP (from Stephen on site discussion page).


"And a saner life tomorrow"


click here to go back to the plays


home plays overview hot news shop best scene much more discuss all the sites español português

www.iainfisher.com / send mail / © 2000-2012 Iain Fisher