Blasted

Blasted

[blas-tid, blah-stid]

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

Synopsis

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, and emotionally fragile. 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 has raped Cate during the night. She attacks him and then escapes out of the bathroom window. Then, unexpectedly, a soldier enters the room in full battle dress. 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 is dead, however, so she buries it in a hole in the floorboards and leaves.

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 a soldier. She eats and feeds the rest of her meal to Ian, who says: "Thank you."

Notes

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