In this reviewer’s first foray into this year’s sampling of Thespian offerings, one finds themselves taking an elevated seat at the Pilch Theatre for 4.48 Psychosis. If the title left you in any doubt as to the darkness of this offering, the set more than aptly dealt with that. The physical space was confined and cramped by a large cube structure which the audience was made to coalesce around. In a rare case for an Oxford student production, the technical side of the play was exemplary. The lighting encapsulated the setting wonderfully without being overpowering, and the play’s musical composition was equally excellent. The closing music captured perfectly the hysteria of the play’s unequivocal endpoint.

The other thing that cannot be missed was the quality of the casting across the board. For me Emma Howlett’s turn as the Doctor and Jessie See’s turn as the patient stick especially in my mind. Make no mistake, this was a cast which had some serious talent going for it. Given the fact that so many of the roles at the top of Oxford theatre still rest in the hands of men, 4.48 Psychosis proved that there was not a token in sight. A progressive casting for a progressive play.

This is not to suggest the play was perfect. I have never been fond of co-producing plays, and this bled through into the almost janus-faced nature of how the stage was used. Though entirely a personal preference, at times I felt that scenes were a bit cramped and the prolonged intensity of focus on the primary subject started to lose impact. At other times, one got small inklings of a more expansive and expressive use of stage. Half way houses leave everyone hungry. This is, alas, a minor technical point in a play that will last long in the memory.

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