The fourth play by Sarah Kane (1971-1999), Crave premiered in Edinburgh on 13 August 1998, originally under her pseudonym Marie Kelvedon.

It is for four speakers, who do little but speak. They sit in a row, and only once or twice is there any action. A and B are male, C and M are female. It is a constant flow of cross-currents, mostly very clipped lines, with occasionally one speaker expounding at length. There are complex relationships of love and hate and history and violence between them, but it is not entirely clear how, or at least not clear to this reviewer.

If two were middle-aged and two were young you could read it as parents and children, love affairs from a generation ago and from now, but the ages aren't strongly marked and the relationships between the four speakers are much more labile. It is as if sometimes one man is speaking as a father, then as an abuser, then as a lover, sometimes to one woman and sometimes to the other. On re-reading the playscript I have once more came away with this confusion. yet this is not an imperfection in Sarah Kane's writing; she wrote this infinitely complex flow, knowing exactly what she was doing.

It is more like the interweaving abstract themes in a string quartet. You hear notes of lost youth, betrayal, pain, annihilation. I've been looking through it again wanting to slice out a single extract that illustrates its nature, but with such an unbroken weave it's almost impossible. Here's an arbitrary glimpse:

C If I die here I was murdered by daytime television.
A I lied for you and that is why I cannot love you.
M Do not demand,
A Do not entreat,
B Learn, learn, why can't I learn?
C They switch on my light every hour to check I'm still breathing.
B Again.
C I tell them sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
B Again and again.
M If you commit suicide you'll only have to come back go though it again.
B The same lesson, again and again.
A Thou shalt not kill thyself.
C Vanity, not sanity, will keep me intact.
M Do you ever hear voices?
B Only when they talk to me.
A Weary souls with dry mouths.
C I'm not ill, I just know that life is not worth living.
A I've lost my faith in honesty.
B Lost my faith in
M Forwards, upwards, inwards,
C Lost.

Erin had always craved for what she couldn’t have, this time was no different. It was the one thing she desired most and was yet typically denied, a relationship of sorts that she wasn’t even so much as to dream about, a relationship that would have put past ones to shame.

It was an unrequited love that in other times had caused her nothing but grief, but her undeniable passion for success always pulled her through such pains until she was left with nothing but blisters. She now had a hard heart, singling out only those that she knew would last almost a lifetime.

Erin clearly remembered her first such relationship, and how her heart had lifted when she found that everything fit, how she had stood tall and proud knowing that together they could pull through anything, it hadn’t lasted, of course, the relationship had inevitably ended badly, leaving her in a hospital bed overnight, cold and alone, the pain unbearable.
The low crushed feeling the split had caused her should have sworn her away from such relationships for good, but her next encounter had promised to be better.

She slowly became addicted.

The one she currently had her sights on was indeed deemed as perfect, it made her insides melt, and she knew that this time, unlike all the others, it was ‘the one’, there could be no other as beautiful.

Such a height could and most probably would compliment hers so very gracefully, and with a body to die for she could hardly turn away. Such smooth silky skin would’ve made a virgin cry and she was thankful for a moment that she wasn’t one and hadn’t been for a long time.

It was a thing of beauty, as if it had been carved by the Gods themselves and Erin craved it, wanting it so desperately that she was ready to snatch it off the shelf before anyone else could have it.

Stupidly, she questioned herself, would it be worth it in the long run, would it be worth breaking the rules for, to be called everything under the sun simply for giving into the one true weakness that she had, would her love be strong enough to get them though it all?

Erin sighed and turned away, refusing to look back on what would have been the most fantastic relationship, but a promise was a promise and she was far above breaking them, besides if brother could starve off alcohol then surely she could too with her shoes, no matter how pretty.

The reductions just made it that little harder to resist.

How she loathed the sales!

Crave (kr?v), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Craved (krvd); p pr. & vb. n. Craving.] [AS. crafian; akin to Icel. krefia, Sw. krfva, Dan. krve.]

1.

To ask with earnestness or importunity; to ask with submission or humility; to beg; to entreat; to beseech; to implore.

I crave your honor's pardon. Shak.

Joseph . . . went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. Mark xv. 43.

2.

To call for, as a gratification; to long for; hence, to require or demand; as, the stomach craves food.

His path is one that eminently craves weary walking. Edmund Gurney.

Syn. -- To ask; seek; beg; beseech; implore; entreat; solicit; request; supplicate; adjure.

 

© Webster 1913.


Crave, v. i.

To desire strongly; to feel an insatiable longing; as, a craving appetite.

Once one may crave for love. Suckling.

 

© Webster 1913.

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