Sarah Kane (3 February 1971 20 February 1999) was a English Playwright, whose work is classed in the league of In-Yer-Face Theatre. From her mind she created a mirror to the blunt reality that is human cruelty. Her work was filled with themes of redemptive love, sexual desire, pain, torture both physical and psychological and death. While her works were reviled when first performed, they have since been acclaimed after her death.
- Blasted (1995)
- Skin (film, 1995)
- Phaedra's Love (1996)
- Cleansed (1998)
- Crave (1998)
- 4.48 Psychosis (1999)
Her first play, Blasted, shocked the stale West End critics; their reviews became iconic and Sarah became friends with other iconic playwrights, like Edward Bond, Caryl Churchill and Harold Pinter. She would also inspire others, including Martin Crimp and Mark Ravenhill. Tragically, while she battled severe depression for many years, it was a battle she would lose. After a failed attempt at suicide by overdose, she was admitted to hospital and put on suicide watch, but there was a fatal lack of communication, leading to Sarah going unobserved long enough to hang herself. She was just 28 years old.
Since Sarah's death, her work has been revisited by the critics, her plays are regularly performed and her work is part of the Performing Arts curriculum in many British Universities.
Sarah's works contain examples of the following:
- Ambiguously Bi: Some of Sarah's characters have been suggested to be bisexual; Kane herself was a lesbian.
- Angry White Man: Ian in Blasted is this, he uses language that offends Cate and doesn't work for his plans. In Skin, Billy is a skinhead who is part of a gang that later attack a Church where an interracial wedding is taking place.
- Black Humour: Phaedra's Love contains a lot of brutal deaths, but also some very witty humour; Kane herself described it as 'My comedy'.
- Break the Cutie: Whenever you call Cate a cutie or not she goes though this after Ian forces himself on her, then escapes the hotel only to return to the ruins with a sick baby that dies in her arms but by the end she isn't afraid to have sex for food.
- Cassandra Truth: Despite Hippolytus and Strophe knowing that Phaedra lied they are still treated badly for this, suffering a fate worse than Cassandra did.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: In Skin, Billy is tortured by Marcia, a black woman, she hits him, scrubs his tats off with bleach, feeds him dog food and carves her name on his back; the torture was so bad that Channel Four aired it before midnight.
- Cleansed has Tinker mentally and physically torturing the patients.
- Creator Cameo: Sarah wasn't just a writer, she also occasionally acted (one of her performances was alongside her then-classmate, Simon Pegg). She once played the roles of Grace in Cleansed and M in Crave after the actresses left the shows.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Masturbation appears in Blasted, Phaedra's Love, Cleansed and Skin, only Crave and 4.48 Psychosis lack it.
- Downer Ending: All of her works have this trope, excepting Cleansed (debatably).
- Downfall by Sex: Blasted, Phaedra's Love and Cleansed all have sex scenes, then something bad happens to the characters, apart from Cate with the soldiers or Tinker and the Woman.
- Eye Scream: Blasted has this- Ian's eyes are eaten by a Solider with PTSD who recreates the scene of his girlfriend's rape and death. To make matters worse, Sarah based it on a real story.
- Goodbye, Cruel World!: 4.48 Psychosis, all 75 minutes of it.
- Humans Are Bastards: The darkest side of human nature is presented in all of her plays.
- The Insomniac: The title 4.48 Psychosis was taken from the fact Sarah always awoke at that time in her depressed state.
- Minimalism: Most of the plays are set in one room, if there is a setting. Her last plays leave a lot to interpretation; the most challenging play is Cleansed, where flowers grow from the set and rats carry away limbs.
- Minimalist Cast: There is less than 10 cast members in most of the plays, and in 4.48 Psychosis there isn't even a cast list.
- Nice Guy: Despite her dark subject matter, Sarah as a person was as a good friend to those that knew her.
- The Nothing After Death: Sarah was raised a Christian but rejected religion after her childhood; Blasted has Ian continually says to Cate that there's nothing after death. However after dying himself, a drop of rain brings him back to life.
- No Name Given: There is the nameless Soldier in Blasted, then there is a nameless woman in Cleansed, in Crave the characters are reduced to single letters, and in 4.48 Psychosis, there's no characters at all.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Ian is racist, insults the disabled and is generally a massive arsehole. Then he rapes Cate who is his total opposite, but boy does he get his comeuppance, and he ends the play as a totally helpless man, at her mercy. Then there the skinhead Billy who is the main character in Skin, his worst act is spitting a half-chewed banana at a Black man then beating another with a brick all to the beat of a toiling bell.
- Rape as Drama: Blasted has two: Ian does it to Cate, then the Soldier does it to Ian.
- Also Phaedra's Love, and it drives this retelling of the play.
- Sexual Karma: Appears in several of her plays, along with Skin.
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Ian in Blasted might be a scumbag, but he regrets his behaviour, saying that he has a son but he has disowned him, and the sad side comes for good post-blinding. Also the characters in Crave and 4.48 Psychosis seem to use their behaviour as a defence.
- Straw Critic: When Blasted opened the Critics were highly negative- Jack Tinker's review was very harsh, refusing to believe that there was anything redeemable in it's violent content note However, Michael Billington, who also wrote such a review, revisited the play and even wrote a letter to Sarah before her death to say sorry.