Produced by Signature
Reviewed by Ronnie Ruff
(l to r) John Lescault, Kathleen Coons, Deborah Hazlett, Joe Isenberg (Photo: Carol Pratt)
It just may be that Crave is the most unusual production I have seen in the entire history of DC Theatre Reviews. Those keeping notes should scribble in their notepads now that this is not necessarily a bad thing at all – in fact if I were to judge my evening with little golden stars it would get three of five. This is not a play for everyone and if you like a show that fits within lines Crave may not be for you.
For the theatre devotee, Crave has a lot going for it before actually reaching your seat. Jeremy Skidmore is directing Signature’s first show in the “Ark” an extremely well designed black box in its new theatre complex. Mr. Skidmore has been hugely successful as the Artistic Director at Theater Alliance and this is the first show he has directed since the announcement that he is stepping down from that position to consider other projects around the country.
Make no mistake this is a play about sex, suicide, desire, fear and death. The playwright, Sarah Kane (who took her young life in the late 90’s) is known for her dark themes and shocking prose. You will find no structured storyline here – no characters that you fall in love with. Instead what unfolds is an edgy piece of long form poetry that expresses the painful desire of the characters and most likely the playwright to remove themselves from the painful depths of death or in the case of Ms. Kane, life.
Simply named A, B, C and M are the dark souls that stand before the audience on a stage filled with sparkling gray sand. The barefoot acting ensemble deliver Kane’s poem of pedophilia and rape – seduction and destruction with a jarring stop-start cadence that combined with excellent visual and sound design provide a unique theatrical experience that must be ultimately credited to Mr. Skidmore for his insightful piece of directing and Tony Cisek, Dan Covey and Mark Anduss for the technical designs (scenic, lighting and sound). The cast delvers Kane’s poem in a rhythmic chant that invokes visions that are sometimes difficult to file away.
Crave is one of those plays that kind of lives with you for a few days – during that time your feelings on what is and is not theatre may change. You may hold a personal debate on the show’s value and meaning or reevaluate the presentation. It even occurred to me that maybe this is a play where closing your eyes and just listening may be appropriate. It is this reviewer’s belief that this personal reflection of her work is exactly what Sarah Kane intended.
Ensemble: Kathleen Coons, John Lescault, Joe Isenberg, and Deborah Hazlett
(Run time: 47 minutes). Crave continues through April 1 at Signature, 2800 S Stafford St, Arlington, VA. Tickets: $44-$55. To order call the box office 703 820-9771 or visit the Signature website.