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January 2004
Review: Blasted at the OFS
Bash Poster .
Blasted - shock theatre.


Blasted

By Sarah Kane

OFS

20-24 January, 2004

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By Neil Dyson

I went to watch Blasted with an air of uncertainty. The reviews I had read told of graphic sex scenes and disturbing imagery, and to this end they had got it right. The play is certainly a far cry from the last stage production I saw - The Lion King, and is not one to take the kids to should Saturday's matinee of Finding Nemo be sold out.

There were parts of Blasted that made the audience freeze, and you could actually feel the relief spread once a scene had ended as a cool breeze hit the back of your neck from the sudden resumption of blinking and breathing from the rows behind. If scenes of extreme sexual content and cannibalisation shock you then this is certainly not the play for you. The play demanded an awful lot from its three actors, with whom you could wholly empathise doing the play day in, day out. It was exhausting and heart-stopping just watching them eat, drink, smoke, strip and still find the energy to act.

Yet Blasted had more levels than a rather tall building. At the traditional post-show pub deconstruction, it became evident that different people had taken many different things from the play. Putting aside the physical aspects, there were numerous and complex messages being portrayed. The relationship between the play's couple, Ian and Cate, was both complex and deep, with ideas of power and control being explored from both sides. Then we are torn from the hotel room of the first scene and thrust into a war-torn apocalypse and meet the third character, 'soldier', fighting for 'them'. His stories of war brutalities in their most extreme forms were just as shocking as the physical graphic scenes, being at once both sickening yet thought provoking. These are not the sort of stories that appear on BBC News 24 to accompany Michael Fish and the weather; they are real, and the play's author, Sarah Kane, tries to bring this to light by forcing the audience to deal with it at face value. Nothing is watered-down to suit the suits; it simply is as it is.

You are left in reflection upon Blasted wondering what moral outweighs another, and what actions justify others. Is there room for the world's brutal realities in our western oasis where Simba always beats Scar in the traditional fight between good and evil? This is a gritty, intellectual, dark story that will have you in thought for days, and will be made all the more moving to hear that it's author, the acclaimed Sarah Kane, took her own life in 1999.

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