images for links
Guardian, 4 March 1999
was fascinated by rats and was hoping the
director Peter Zadek could use live ones in his
production of Cleansed.
She also loved the tribal pull of football - she
was a Man United fan and took a perverse delight
in being hated for it.
|| Adam Jasper Smith
play opens with a doctor, Tinker, cooking up
heroin for his patient Graham. The dose, injected
through the eye, is fatal. Although dead, Graham
remains on stage: as corpse, as memory and as
interlocutor. He is present without being
gruesome. Grahams sister, Grace, comes to
Tinkers clinic in search of her lost
brother. Not finding him, she asks at the very
least for his clothes, an act of commitment that
results in her taking his place as the chief
object of Tinkers care.
Grace and Graham are not the only inhabitants of
the clinic. Alongside them are 3 others: Rod and
Carl are lovers, Robin is alone. They form no
community. Each character is limited, as if by
invisible interdict, to communicating either with
the one they love or with Tinker. There is no
solidarity amongst those in the sanatorium: they
dont so much refuse to identify with each
other as appear completely unaware of each
others existence. A state that renders them
all the more alienated and vulnerable,
desperately starved of love and cannibalising
each other in search of it.
Graces fatal act of love for Graham is
mirrored by others, such as the unconditional
declaration of love by Carl for Rod. None of
these demonstrations goes unpunished, and just as
Grace will be sacrificed, Carl will have his
tongue and limbs removed by the good Doctor.
Tinker is not so much a character as the force of
the world that punishes us for excessive
closeness. His acts of violence are carried out
without perceivable pleasure. This is crucial to
Andrews staging because violence itself is
always a stimulant, and if overdone it would
destroy the precise monotony of the performance.
As a result, even the blood that flows during the
performance is black.
Tinker is not really a character. At least, no
more a character than the set itselfa field
of blank concrete, a wall beyond which there is
nothing to escape to. In the centre of the stage
a circular therapeutic pool is set. It serves as
both baptismal font and slaughterhouse drain.
Sophie Annals (link has gone-
An on-line diary by an
actress rehearsing Cleansed:
for me to start working on my movements and
getting the lines down. I need to have a
breakdown and collapse, get beaten and raped
(with out being touched) and I need to have those
at least partly choreographed before we start
Rothschiller interviewed by Kate Zambreno,
Newcity Chicago, 22 Mar 2001
Cleansed, a modern-day 1984,
was supposedly based on the quote being in
love is like being in Dachau. It tells the
stories of society's undesirables, a gay couple,
a mental patient, a grieving sister and her ghost
brother, who struggle under the cruel,
unrelenting torture of the sadistic and vicious
Angel of Death-like warden, ironically named
Tinker, after the London Times critic. Because
"he has that same power, deciding who's
going to live and who's going to die".
Sarah Kane's Cleansed was one of the most
repellent experiences of my theatre-going life...
trite visions of love as suffering, exaltation
and escape keep being overwhelmed by the
motiveless intrusion of violence. James
Macdonald's well-acted production has the
sumptuous, camp chic of James Bond films. The
leather costumes are pure bad taste. The stylised
violence - balloons bursting with paint when
bodies are shot, or red ribbons for severed limbs
- makes depravity look elegant rather than wicked.
|| Matthew Cheney
is not a playwright on the level of, for
instance, Caryl Churchill, because she died, I
think, before she had really developed into the
writer she could and should have been. (And it's
unfair to compare anyone to Caryl Churchill, who,
if I were forced into the unfortunate corner of
having to name the single greatest living
playwright in the English language, would be my
choice.) But Kane's work is remarkable, even
though it is raw, even though it sometimes
overreaches or strains for uncertain effect, even
though an insensitive production can make the
writing seem violent for its own sake.
Nonetheless, there is a vitality and an energy to
her work -- dare I say it, a moral energy -- that
is certainly rare and nearly unique.
The effect of Kane's best plays is to eviscerate
the audience. It is theatre that is not simply in
yer face, nor is it merely brutal -- the effect
is horrifying and jolting, but also numbing and
absurd. It is the painful paradox of horror and
apathy that fills Kane's plays with their fire.