Patient 4260 Review

Patient 4620 is an atmospheric exploration into the psyche of a disturbed artist.

Patient 4260 Review

In a small studio in Hoxton, hidden between estates lies a gallery dedicated to the late, great and entirely fictional Gretel Sauerbrot, a formerly renowned artist who was admitted to the Raventhorne Institute after a nervous breakdown. As a visitor you’re guided through the immersive experience by headpieces playing narration which tells the story from the perspective of her former friend.

Patient 4260’s narration, performed by Katheryn Kaz Brown provides an interesting and creepy listening experience. At first it’s quite slow, maybe even too slow, as the narrator guides the audience through Sauerbrot’s artwork. The way in which these works are described give an interesting insight into both artist and narrator, with the descriptions being so deep that you could almost make the art yourself going purely off them. On the one hand, this allows for extensive development of the characters and narrators voice, whilst posing interesting questions. On the other, it makes the start feel like a bit of a drag, and like your hand is being held just a little too tight.

Despite this slow start, the narration becomes progressively more interesting, playing around with what is and isn’t true. The precise writing and great performance means that through vocals alone - a deep and interesting character forms - telling a creepy and layered story.

Narration aside, the artwork in the exhibition itself is both aesthetically pleasing and succeeds in its own storytelling, effectively conveying the isolation of Sauerbrot whilst also being intensely unsettling when analysed. This unsettlingly beautiful artwork is then complemented by the specific lighting and description, sucking you deep into the work of the troubled (fictitious) artist behind it. Classical music plays under and in-between narration, further stirring that emotional response. Towards the end of the experience, there’s even some cool use of taste and smell to immerse you in the strangeness of the experience.

As a whole, Patient 4620 goes for an incredibly creepy and Lovecraftian atmosphere, rather than cheap scares. The confluence of the fantastic acting (from both the narrator and Doctor Raventhorne), interesting writing, disturbing art and eerie background music all works to makes you forget that there’s anyone else in the room, engaging all your senses to make you feel truly trapped and isolated - in part due to the compact studio space. At the same time, the writing avoids the incredibly harmful demonisation of mental illness which is endemic to the work of Lovecraft and his successors, instead Sauerbrot’s tale is tragic, and the real monsters aren’t those who are mentally ill. Patient 4260 exemplifies how you don’t need a massive stage or a ridiculously high budget to create a genuinely creepy and immersive experience.

Header Image Credit: Dread Falls Theatre


Oluwatayo Adewole

Oluwatayo Adewole Contributor

Hey there! I'm a wordy-type who's into all kinds of stuff, but especially: film, comics, theatre and trying to make the world a better place

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