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Cover of the Methuen edition
Written bySarah Kane
Date premiered12 January 1995 (1995-01-12)
Place premieredRoyal Court Theatre Upstairs, London
Original languageEnglish
SubjectWar, sexual violence
SettingAn expensive hotel room in Leeds, UK

Blasted is the first play by the British author Sarah Kane. It was first performed in 1995 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London.[1]


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 engages in frottage with Cate during one of her fits. Afterwards, Cate performs oral sex on Ian, biting him. Cate retires to the bathroom. A soldier unexpectedly enters the room brandishing a gun, and finds Cate has escaped through the bathroom window. 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 sausage and gin. The blood seeping down her legs implies that she has paid for this by having sex with the soldiers outside. She eats and hand-feeds the rest of her meal to Ian, who says: "Thank you."[2]

Notable productions[edit]

World premiere (London, 1995)

12 January 1995 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, UK.
Directed by James Macdonald.

The premiere which prompted headlines labelling the play a "disgusting feast of filth"[1]

Italian premiere

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

2001 London revival

2001 at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, London, UK.
Directed by James Macdonald.

The Royal Court revival which received positive reviews.[3]

2005-2006 German production[4][5]

16th March 2005 at Schaubühne, Berlin, Germany.
Also performed 7th-11th Nov 2006 at the Barbican, London, UK.
Translated into German by Nils Tabert. Performed under the title of Zerbombt.
Directed by Thomas Ostermeier.

2008 site-specific Leeds production

2008 at Queens Hotel, Leeds, UK.
Directed by Felix Mortimer.

  • Ian - Mark Taylor Batty
  • Cate - Mariel Kaplan
  • Soldier - Ash Layton

Produced in its authentic setting, this production by 19;29 Performance saw the audience invited into the hotel room Kane set the play within.[6]

New York premiere production

2008 at the Soho Rep, New York City, New York, U.S.
Directed by Sarah Benson.[7]

2010 London revival

2010 at Lyric Hammersmith, London, UK.
Directed by 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. The production won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.[8]

2015 Sheffield production

2015 at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, UK.
Directed by Richard Wilson.

As part of the Sarah Kane season with staged productions of Blasted, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis and semi-staged readings of Phaedra's Love and Cleansed.[9][10]

2019 Vienna production

2019 at TheaterArche, Vienna, Austria.
Directed by Tom Crawley.[11]

First original language production of the play in Austria, produced by Mental Eclipse Theater House in cooperation with Vienna theatre project.[12][13]

Critical reception[edit]

The initial performance was highly controversial and the play was fiercely attacked by most newspaper critics, many of whom regarded it as an attempt to shock the audience.[14] 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."[15] After seeing a revival of the play, an Evening Standard reviewer Annie Ferguson 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."[3] It was listed in The Independent as one of the 40 best plays ever.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Blasted at The Royal Court Theatre". Royal Court Theatre Productions Limited. 12 January 1995. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  2. ^ Kane, Sarah, Sarah Kane: Complete Plays. London: Methuen (2001), ISBN 0-413-74260-1
    BLASTED by Sarah Kane
    JERWOOD THEATRE DOWNSTAIRS 29 March - 28 April 2001"
    . Royal Court Theatre Productions Limited. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  4. ^ Blasted webpage on the Schaubuehne website
  5. ^ Billington, Michael (8 November 2006). "Blasted (Zerbombt)". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Gardner, Lyn (20 February 2008). "Blasted". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  7. ^ Brantley, Ben (2008), "Humanity Gets Only a Bit Part", The New York Times, retrieved 1 January 2015, Now "Blasted", whose author died a suicide in 1999, has finally arrived in New York in a first-rate production that opened Thursday night at the Soho Rep on Walker Street, filling a significant gap in the history of contemporary theater here.
  8. ^ "Blasted named Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre – Laurence Olivier Awards". 13 March 2011. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 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.
  9. ^ Andrew Dickson. "Sarah Kane: a Blast from the past". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  10. ^ Evans, Daniel (29 July 2015). "Sarah Kane Season Sheffield Theatres". Sheffield Theatres. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015.
  11. ^ "BLASTED". TheaterArche (in German). 28 September 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Blasted by Sarah Kane". Mental Eclipse Theater House. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  13. ^ "vienna theatre project". viennnatheatre. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  14. ^ Graham Saunders Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes
  15. ^ Simon Hattenstone,"A Sad Hurrah", Guardian 1 July 2000.
  16. ^ "The 40 best plays to read before you die". The Independent. 18 August 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2020.


  • 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.)

External links[edit]