Review: NoExit’s ‘4.48 Psychosis’

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One of the elements that keeps plays from reaching new audiences is the notion that they have to be performed in traditional theaters. NoExit, a collaborative group evolved over the past few years through productions at the Indy Fringe Festival and elsewhere, took its most recent show to an art space at Big Car Gallery, where it seemed to succeed in reaching a crowd that may not ever set foot in the IRT.

A combination of free-form poetry and movement/dance, “4:48 Psychosis” (which ran Feb. 18-March 5) delves into the mind of a young woman (Georgeanna Smith), whose journal entries make up the text. No back story is given, and character development is deliberately kept at a minimum as she fights a losing battle with clinical depression. From the beginning—as audience members are met with her vacant-eyed, resigned presence—we know where this is going. And the piece might have been best served at 20 minutes shorter than its one-hour running time. (The New York production ran a difficult-to-image hour and 45 minutes…in French)  But the constant beat of a metronome, the off-stage voices, the confidence of the dance/movement, and the knowledge that those dangling light bulbs were surely going to be used for something made for a worthwhile evening, even though the material was more admirable than insightful.

Performed with less skill and precision, a show such as this could easily come across as pretentious or preciously sophomoric. Here, however, the skilled NoExit folks demonstrated a professionalism and attention to moment-to-moment detail that left me regretting missing past work and looking forward to seeing what they have in store—which includes “Thom Pain (based on nothing),” at the Wheeler Arts Community in May.

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