Sarah Kane knows how to pack a punch. Her work is savage, brutal and yet poetic and inspiring. I remember reading Cleansed years ago and being so utterly dumb-founded and overwhelmed by the sheer force of it and how to stage something with such breadth and depth of imagination and so complex.
I am lucky enough to be in the position to have been in a Sarah Kane play (Phaedra's Love) on a relatively large stage (Arcola Theatre) and I am aware of the technical and emotional difficulties in performing in a Sarah Kane play and her staging. Dealing with the savagery in her plays and the intense emotional concentration required from the performers if you are to get through the play each night. The cast of Cleansed at the Dorfman Theatre under the direction of Katie Mitchell are superb. Michelle Terry in the lead really does a superb job of getting utterly involved in her role. There is no where to hide here.
The play is visceral and intense and yet it moved me in a very powerful and unique way. The calm and sullen feeling that seemed to have swallowed the whole audience as we left the theatre was palpable. The evisceration and torture wasn't just violence for violence sake. People genuinely commit these horrid crimes and the beauty us that human love and kindness in our nature breaks through the brutality and cruelty.
The play is surreal and hard to describe with full justice. It certainly won't be to the taste of everyone, but the emotional punch you get from the play, is truly unique.