Actress Rakie Craves big theatre challenge

Rakie Ayola' in rehearsals for Crave
Rakie Ayola' in rehearsals for Crave
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An actress in Sheffield working on a play by a controversial writer admits it is a challenge but one she relishes.

Four actors star in a double bill of two of Sarah Kane’s plays, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis.

Rakie Ayola plays M in Crave and is one of three unnamed people in 4.48 Psychosis. She said of the second play: “There are no characters. You could do it with a cast of 50.”

Crave looks at love from all apsects, including its dark side, and Psychosis is described as being ‘a kaleidoscopic meditation on the unbearable intensity of life’. It was the last play that Kane wrote before she committed suicide at the age of 28 in 1999.

The double bill is part of a season showing all Kane’s work. She burst on to the theatre scene in 1995 and caused a sensation with her first play, Blasted, which the Daily Mail famously described as “this disgusting feast of filth”. The play featured violence, rapes, cannibalism and racism.

Rakie said of Crave: “I was trying to describe it to my husband. I said it reminded me of how people might have responded to someone like Stravinsky or Wagner. At first it makes no sense.

“If someone takes the time to really listen, you stop being offended by it for a second and really listen. It’s discordant and then harmonious. She is so poetic.

“In one rehearsal it’s as if I walked into a train carriage and everyone is on the phone. They all seem to be talking to each other, answering the questions in the right way. There is an incredible beauty in that,” she said.

Rakie added: “Sarah Kane has taken the things she wants to explore as a writer. She calls Crave a symphony for four voices. By the time she gets to 4.48 Psychosis, it is pure poetry. Turn it into a play if you can.

“She has written some of the most beautiful speeches I’ve ever heard, all about love.

“I can’t remember the last time a contemporary text challenged me as an actor so much.

“Whatever happens, I’ll be slightly better at my job at the end of it.

“I’m having to use everything to make this work, technically and vocally.

“Emotionally, she expects you to go there as well. It’s asking a lot.”

Rakie urged Sheffielders to see the plays: “I hope that the people who were interested enough to come and see Blasted, whatever they thought about it, I hope they will come and hear her later work.

“She moved on in ways that most playwrights don’t within five years.”

n Crave/Psychosis 4.48, Crucible Studio from tomorrow, Friday, to March 21.

Box office: 0114 249 6000 or www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk