Blasted

Definition

Theater

  • The first full-length play by Sarah Kane, a savage work that provoked anger and disgust when performed at London's Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1995. With its scenes of anal rape, cannibalism, and eye-gouging, the play was condemned as intellectually puerile as well as gratuitously unpleasant (one critic compared the experience to "having your head held down in a bucket of offal"). The hysteria surrounding Blasted and its young author was such that Kane chose to submit a subsequent play under a false name.

    The action takes place in a smart hotel room in Leeds where Ian - a foul-mouthed, cynical tabloid journalist - sets out to seduce Cate, a vulnerable young girl. When he is rebuffed, he rapes and humiliates her. The play then takes a sudden swerve into expressionism as a deranged soldier burstsinto the room, waving a gun and ranting about the horrors of civil war. realism is abandoned altogether when the hotel is blown apart by a bomb to reveal the outside world as a hellish war-zone. The soldier rapes and blinds Ian before committing suicide. In the last scene, the starving Ian is reduced to eating a dead baby. The play ends on a faint note of hope when Cate returns to share her food with the dying man.

    Kane's intention - almost entirely lost in the media hoohah - was to dramatize the links between casually racist and misogynistic attitudes at home and the horrors of the civil war then raging in the Balkans. As she herself put it, "the logical conclusion of the attitude that produces an isolated rape in England is the rape camps in Bosnia, and the logical conclusion to the way society expects men to behave is war." This aspect of the play emerged more clearly from the 2001 revival, mounted some 18 months after its author's suicide: critics now hailed Blasted as "a humane, impassioned dramatic testament"and "a play with a fine moral purpose". Subsequent revivals have included the play's New York premiere and a production mounted in the Leeds hotel where the play is set (both 2008).

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