Although it certainly reminds of Beckett, there’s none of his surreal humour here, but rather an overwhelming intensity

And it happened to be you

A few months later, “Crave” was performed in Edinburgh: a ‘choral monologue’ of four different voices belonging to one and the same mind, fragmented and tormented, whose effect on the reader is utterly bewildering. In writing this play, Kane drew heavily from her history of mental issues, failed relationships, family conflicts, but also from the juvenile religious fervour she had rejected in her early twenties, the traces of which are to be found in the biblical images and quotes (Job, Psalms, the Gospels and even A. Crowley) that form the evanescent texture of this dialogue/soliloquy. It’s an unsettling, intensely poetic experience, messed up, chaotic and visceral as only the human mind can be.

You can only hope she was smiling while doing so, but you’ll never really know, nobody ever will

To crown it all, her posthumously performed masterpiece Г¦rlig Cuba ekteskapsbyrГҐ, “4.48 Psychosis”. Strictly speaking, this one is not even a play, but rather a suicide letter, a poem, a desperate monologue with virtually no stage directions. It reads like a collection of diary entries written shortly before Kane surrendered to her inner demons and took her own life by hanging herself (with her shoe laces, which a patient whose suicidal tendencies were already well known wasn’t supposed to have at her disposal. But then again, she wasn’t supposed to be left alone for one hour and half, either). Hence the total lack of dramatic technicalities and genre conventions, to the point that it’s hard to even classify this marvelous text. Pure poetry, most definitely, but also a visionary, heartrending account of the suffering she went through as a psychiatric patient, more realistic and gutwrenching than Sylvia Plath’s and Anna Kavan’s. In fact one can’t help but wonder what a great poet she could have been. This elegy to the self reached so deep inside me, struck so many chords with such inexorable precision that I often felt too frightened to continue. Soon after completing this devastatingly beautiful poem, she killed herself. Reading this is therefore like seeing a girl standing on a roof edge: the moment you start screaming no no no no she waves you hello and jumps off. And you realise that she was only waiting for someone to pass by and see her, someone she could wave hello to for the last time.

An example of her sympathy is the play “Blasted,” a mortality tale literally staged in a pile of rubble and dead bodies, a situation so grotesque that it’s funny. The story centers on a rapist being destroyed in most of the possible ways, as we watch him go from grim indifference to becoming childlike in his pain. And there’s no other way of saying this: It has a feel-good ending. There is hope. Perhaps not for the world, but who cares what happens to that awful thing, anyway.

“Cleansed” (1998) deals with a question whose answer doesn’t exist: what’s the greatest promise you’re willing to make to a lover, and how far would you actually go to keep that promise? Tinker, a sadistic psychiatrist (?) experiments on a few patients (?) with very peculiar issues in an unnamed institution, apparently a university turned into Tinker’s private concentration camp/scientific lab. He observes them interact, love each other, have sex, make vows – and then pushes each of them to the extreme limits of those vows, inflicting unthinkable tortures on them – ‘cleansing’ them, so to speak, of all their lies and illusions; giving their love the purity of immanence, the absolute gratouitousness of Here and Now. Orwell comes to mind with regards to the tortures (Room 101 in “1984”) although there’s a good deal of the author’s personal experience in these pages, especially her lifelong struggle against depression and the shortcomings of institutionalised mental healthcare. The name ‘Tinker’ is her retaliation against the cultural establishment who had been attacking her on a shamefully personal level ever since “Blasted” was first performed (‘This disgusting feast of filth’, as critic Jack Tinker put it; hence the name).