Crave (play)

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Written bySarah Kane
CharactersC, M, B and A
Date premiered13 August 1998 (1998-08-13)
Place premieredTraverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Original languageEnglish

Crave is a one-act play by British playwright Sarah Kane. It was first performed in 1998 by the theatre company Paines Plough, with which Kane was writer-in-residence for the year, at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. The play was initially presented under the pseudonym Marie Kelvedon; Kane used a pseudonym to avoid the distraction of her reputation for graphic staged violence from her previous works. Crave was Kane's fourth play. It is dedicated by the author to Mark Ravenhill.[1]


The play reflects a stylistic departure from Kane's previous works, using a non-linear, poetic style, and is notable for its lack of staged violence that had been a hallmark of the author's previous work; this style is continued in her next and final work, 4.48 Psychosis. The dialogue is intertextual, and often it is unclear whom each line is addressed to. Much of the delivery of the text is left up to directorial interpretation. The author does not provide context, stage directions or descriptions of characters. The sex and gender of the four characters (A, B, C, and M) is only identifiable from context within the play.

Themes and allusions[edit]

Crave continues the theme of pain in love that Kane had explored with previous plays, but is stylistically a departure. The play contains several dark themes, presented as issues haunting the four characters. These themes include rape, incest, pedophilia, anorexia, drug addiction, mental instability, murder, and suicide.

Kane incorporates numerous literary allusions in the text of the play, especially to The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. She also makes several references to biblical scripture, especially through the character of "A".

"Marie Kelvedon"[edit]

The pseudonym "Marie Kelvedon" was based on the village of Kelvedon Hatch, where Kane grew up. Kane included the following fictitious biography in the programme notes:

Marie Kelvedon is twenty-five. She grew up in Germany in British Forces accommodation and returned to Britain at sixteen to complete her schooling. She was sent down from St Hilda's College, Oxford, after her first term, for an act of unspeakable Dadaism in the college dining hall. She has had her short stories published in various European literary magazines and has a volume of poems Onzuiver ('Impure')[2] published in Belgium and Holland. Her Edinburgh Fringe Festival debut was in 1996, a spontaneous happening through a serving hatch to an audience of one. Since leaving Holloway she has worked as a mini-cab driver, a roadie with the Manic Street Preachers and as a continuity announcer for BBC Radio World Service. She now lives in Cambridgeshire with her cat, Grotowski.[3]

Popular culture[edit]

The lyrics to Icelandic singer Björk's song "An Echo, A Stain", released on the album Vespertine in 2001, are based on this play.


  1. ^ Review of Crave by Les Gutman at CurtainUp
  2. ^ onzuiver is Dutch for "Impure"
  3. ^ A reference to the Polish experimental theatre director Jerzy Grotowski.
  • Sarah Kane: Complete Plays. London 2001 ISBN 0-413-74260-1