Blasted

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Blasted
Blasted.jpg
Cover of the Methuen edition
Written by Sarah Kane
Characters Ian
Cate
Soldier
Date premiered 12 January 1995 (1995-01-12)
Place premiered Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London
Original language English
Subject war, sexual violence
Setting An expensive hotel room in Leeds, UK

Blasted is the first play by British author Sarah Kane. It was first performed in 1995 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London.[1] This performance was highly controversial and the play was fiercely attacked by most newspaper critics, many of whom regarded it as a rather immature attempt to shock the audience.[2] However, critics have subsequently reassessed it; for example The Guardian's Michael Billington, who savaged the play in his first review, later recanted in the wake of Kane's suicide: "I got it wrong, as I keep saying. She was a major talent. Apparently, Harold Pinter said at her memorial service that she was a poet, and I think that's dead right."[3] After seeing a revival of the play, an Evening Standard reviewer wrote "How shrill and silly the 1995 hullabaloo and hysteria seemed last night when Blasted returned to the Royal Court. It is, and always was, a play with a fine, moral purpose."[4]

Synopsis[edit]

The play is set in an expensive hotel room in Leeds. Ian, a foul-mouthed middle-aged tabloid journalist has brought a young woman, Cate, to the room for the night. Cate is much younger than Ian, emotionally fragile, and seemingly intellectually simple. Throughout Scene 1, Ian tries to seduce Cate, but she resists. All the while, Ian proudly parades his misogyny, racism and homophobia. The scene ends with the sound of spring rain.

Scene 2 begins the next morning. Ian rapes Cate during one of her fits. She attacks him and then escapes through the bathroom window. Then, unexpectedly, a soldier enters the room brandishing a gun. The hotel room is then struck by a mortar bomb, and the scene ends with the sound of summer rain.

In Scene 3, the hotel room is in ruins; the bomb has blasted a hole in the wall. The soldier and Ian begin to talk, and it is gradually revealed that the hotel is located in the midst of a brutal war. The soldier tells Ian about appalling atrocities that he has witnessed and taken part in, involving rape, torture and genocide, and says he has done everything as an act of revenge for the murder of his girlfriend. He then rapes Ian, and sucks out his eyes. The scene ends with the sound of autumn rain.

In Scene 4, Ian lies blinded next to the soldier, who has committed suicide. Cate returns, describing the city being overrun by soldiers, and bringing with her a baby that she has rescued. The baby dies, and she buries it in a hole in the floorboards and leaves, but not before arguing with Ian about the utility or futility of praying during a burial. The scene ends with the sound of heavy winter rain.

Scene 5 consists of a series of brief images, showing Ian crying, masturbating and even hugging the dead soldier for comfort as he starves in the ruined room. Eventually, he crawls into the hole with the dead baby and eats it. The stage direction then reads that Ian dies. It starts raining, and Ian says "Shit". Cate returns, bringing a sausage that she has paid for by having sex with the soldiers outside. She eats and hand-feeds the rest of her meal to Ian, who says: "Thank you."[5]

Notable Productions[edit]

1993 - Birmingham University Reading, Birmingham, UK (dir. Sarah Kane) - The first reading of what was set to become Blasted.[citation needed]

1995 - Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, UK (dir. James MacDonald) - The premier which prompted headlines labelling the play a "disgusting feast of filth"[1]

1997 - Teatro della Limonania, Sesto Fiorentino, Florence, It - The first Italian appearance of the play.[citation needed]

2001 - Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, London, UK (dir.James MacDonald) - The Royal Court revival which cemented[original research?] its place in dramatic history.[4]

2005 - Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin, Germany (dir. Thomas Ostermeier).[citation needed] This production also toured to London's Barbican Theatre for its 2006-2007 BITE season.[citation needed]

2008 - Queens Hotel, Leeds, UK (dir. Felix Mortimer)- Produced in its authentic setting, this production saw the audience invited into the hotel room Kane set the play within.[citation needed]

2008 - Soho Rep, New York, NY, USA (dir. Sarah Benson) - The New York Premiere.[citation needed]

2010 - Lyric Hammersmith, London, UK (dir. Sean Holmes) - A major revival of the play, 15 years on from its debut, by contemporary of Sarah Kane and the Lyric's Artistic Director Sean Holmes starring Danny Webb and Lydia Wilson. The production won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.[6]

2013 - Cryptic Fascinations Theater Company, New York, NY, USA (dir. Will Detlefsen).[citation needed]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Blasted at The Royal Court Theatre". Royalcourttheatre.com. Royal Court Theatre Productions Limited. 1995-01-12. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  2. ^ Graham Saunders Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes
  3. ^ Simon Hattenstone,"A Sad Hurrah", Guardian 1 July 2000.
  4. ^ a b "REVIEWS OF PAST PRODUCTIONS
    BLASTED by Sarah Kane
    JERWOOD THEATRE DOWNSTAIRS 29 March - 28 April 2001"
    . http://www.royalcourttheatre.com. Royal Court Theatre Productions Limited. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
     
  5. ^ Kane, Sarah, Sarah Kane: Complete Plays. London: Methuen (2001), ISBN 0-413-74260-1
  6. ^ "Blasted named Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre – Laurence Olivier Awards". Olivierawards.com. 13 March 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-16. "The Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Sarah Kane’s Blasted has been crowned 2011’s Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. Kane’s brutal play, most certainly not one for the faint hearted, played at the West London venue in the autumn of 2010, once again reminding theatregoers of the groundbreaking talent lost when Kane committed suicide in 1999. Lyric Hammersmith Artistic Director Sean Holmes directed the production that starred Danny Webb, Lydia Wilson and Aidan Kelly. The play opens in a hotel room where troubled young woman Cate spends the night with a racist, misogynist, violent journalist. It turns on its head when a soldier bursts into the room, bringing with him an apocalyptic vision, and delivers a brutal comeuppance. The tale of rape, torture, cannibalism and murder triumphed in an eclectic category that also contained Soho theatre’s Moscow-set Ivan And The Dogs, the Royal Court’s Afghanistan drama The Empire and Chris Rolls’s production of Les Parents Terribles, which was staged at the Trafalgar Studios 2 as part of the Donmar Trafalgar season." 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kane, Sarah, Sarah Kane: Complete Plays. London: Methuen (2001), ISBN 0-413-74260-1
  • Saunders, Graham. Love Me or Kill Me: Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes. Manchester, Eng.: Manchester UP, 2002.
  • Sierz, Aleks. "Blasted". The Literary Encyclopedia. 3 June 2004. Accessed 25 Feb. 2007. (Paid subscription required for access to full article; only a portion accessible otherwise.)