4:48 Psychosis was the astonishing final work of the radical British playwright Sarah Kane, first performed posthumously in 2000. Detailing the experience of clinical depression, the play harrowingly reveals, through poetry, anger and dark humor, an individual’s struggle to come to terms with their own psychosis, the numbers in the title referring to the time in the early morning when clarity and bleak despair strike together.
In Philip Venables’ new operatic adaptation of Kane’s play, directed by Ted Huffman, the search for love and happiness and the struggle for identity are explored through a fusion of opera with spoken and visual text. Presented at the Lyric Hammersmith, this is a production that promises to bring a new resonance to the last creative utterances of one of the most courageous young British writers of her generation.
Philip made his Royal Opera debut in 2016 with 4.48 Psychosis, based on the text by Sarah Kane, and the first ever permitted adaptation of her work. The opera (dir. Ted Huffman) was critically acclaimed at its premiere and again at its 2018 revival: “extraordinarily accomplished and imaginative writing” (The Stage); “a score ranging guilelessly from motoric arrhythmia to wispy renaissance” (The Independent); “A new brand of opera” (The Times) “4.48 Psychosis opera is rawly powerful and laceratingly honest” (The Telegraph); “he ambushes and refreshes an old art form.” (The Observer) “Experimentation in the service of absolute emotional precision: Venables’ economical work is one of the most exhilarating operas in years, even while it gives voice to some of the darkest thoughts imaginable.” (Spectator).. The opera won the 2016 UK Theatre Award for Opera, the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-scale Composition and the 2017 British Composer Award for Stage Work, and was nominated for an Olivier Award and Sky Arts South Bank Award.