This academic year has seen a change in the delivery of co-curricular Drama with the traditional Michaelmas Production replaced by two separate plays to provide more opportunities for both our Junior and Senior pupils to participate.

The Senior play, 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane, is a raw and unflinching exploration into the mind of someone suffering from depression and is certainly not a play to be taken lightly. However, as Bradfield prides itself on being a ‘talking school’ it was felt that, if dealt with sensitively and respectfully, a production of the play could be a powerful tool for starting the conversation with our pupils.

Without doubt, 4.48 Psychosis is a challenging play to tackle. There are no character names, no stage directions and just 34 pages of continuous text, that looks, feels and reads like a long form poem.

Following the initial read through the cast and directorial team admitted they could not confidently declare that they could understand all aspects of the play. Different lines and different sections had connected with each of them yet, as the discussion continued the cast began to form an idea of what the play might be about and how it could be staged. One thing everyone agreed on was that this was an important play with an important message and it had to be done in a way that the Bradfield audience could access and understand. Weeks of intensive rehearsal followed and after a series of assemblies for all years, the play was staged three times in a completely transformed Old Gym.


Audience members were denied seats, instead entering a completely open space and having to make a conscious decision whether to sit or stand, to stay still or move with the action. With the centre of the Old Gym occupied by a hospital room, the audience was surrounded by performers representing the central character’s thoughts, hopes, desires and anxieties. It is a rare thing for someone who suffers from depression to be able to articulate their experiences as eloquently, as sensitively and as beautifully as Sarah Kane.

At times both performing and watching the play can be quite a challenging experience but, as Mr Saunders would remind his cast, not all plays are there simply to entertain us, some are there to provoke us, to make us face uncomfortable truths, to help us understand the world through a lens other than our own.

It is fair to say that the play did indeed provoke conversation but no one doubted its innovative staging, powerful design, and outstanding performances from the cast. With Ginny (M) and Jackson (A) leading from the front as the two central characters, the play would not have worked without the support of Daisy (K), Jemima (M), Paula (I), Tabby (M), Purdey (I), Sophia (M), Emma (M), Nell (J), Holly (I) and Silvia (K).