Cleansed (4 stars)

Fear No Colours take on Sarah Kane’s shocking masterpiece


This article is from 2015.


First performed in 1998 at the Royal Court Downstairs in London, Sarah Kane’s deeply unsettling third play is brought to life to devastating affect by new Glasgow-based theatre company Fear No Colours, whose talented young cast convincingly capture the madness and the horror of her script.

Triggered by a Roland Barthes’ line – ‘being in love was like being in Auschwitz’ – Cleansed follows a gay couple, a brother and sister and a peepshow dancer – within a concentration camp overseen by the sadistic Tinker. Tinker, who was allegedly named after a critic who disparaged Kane’s earlier plays, is both authoritarian teacher and sexual deviant, and is one of the most unpleasant characters in 20th-century drama.

As the characters suffer through the shocking hell of the institution, Kane draws the audience deeper and deeper into a world where no light ever shines and the transgressive becomes almost familiar.

As with all of Kane’s work, it feels as if she is punishing the audience and driving her characters towards the very brink of sanity. However, despite this, the repeated confrontations with horror build into an almost redemptive, if brutal resolution.

This splendid production by Fear No Colours is an admirable tour de force. The performances by the entire cast are gut-wrenching in their honesty, offering up energy that captures both Kane’s hate-filled script and a love for her dark poetry. The black-hearted Tinker epitomises the evil that Kane saw in the world – authority figures from fathers through teachers to Nazi scientists are evoked in his behaviour. Erfan Shojanoori lends him an appropriately slimy swagger and provides the foundation of a powerful production.

Not one for young audiences or the easily traumatised, this is an emotional, dark journey into the black corners of the human soul.

C nova, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug (not 17, 24), 1pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£6.50–£8.50).

This article is from 2015.


  • 4 stars

Fear No Colours Sarah Kane's darkly passionate play turns the heart into a torture camp where losing love is a fate worse than death. And this love is the most violent thing in the world. Loss of love is the loss of self, and anything may be endured to avoid that. In a torture institution of the heart, the…


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