Violence is not golden

This nefarious exploration of all things savage is a deliberately perverse piece, to such an extent that to grasp either where it’s coming from or what it’s meant to say is analagous to an exercise in enigmatic code-cracking. Ian and Cate enter a minimalist set, and before a word is spoken, we are struck by his brashness and her meekness, a combination which promotes fear from the start. Their sordid relationship is exposed, the play then skirting over bigotry, disabilites, terminal illness, and vicious sex, before a sudden shift to a crude examination of the effects of civil war. Through repeated rape, violence, and sickening imagery, playwright Sarah Kane attempts to expose modern civilisation. The acting of the three cast members is of a very high standard, and the directing by John Walton is strong. The body language of Charlotte Covel (Cate) is particularly effective for revealing the personality of her character. Her exploration of the hotel room and thumb-sucking reveal Cate’s child-like side. Andy King maintains a powerfully versatile portrayal of gun-brandishing Ian’s mood swings. But Ian is always more threatening when he puts the gun down and menacingly undresses in front of the unwilling Cate. The ceremonial undressing and redressing, which Ian uses in an attempt to entice Cate, seems to replace and animalise their colloquial discourse. The violence in the play, both shown and recollected, is unmitigated. We feel the sexual acts Ian forces on Cate are only a prelude to the entrance of the brutal soldier (Devesh Patel). Kane seeks a raw realism through nudity and violence, but the unrelenting surge of emotions is first stomach- turning and then tedious. However, the lack of relief from brutality does give the audience a feeling of what the constant fear of war is like. Whether thegraphic nastiness constantly shown and spoken of in the play is needed is another question. The description of events is even more upsetting than the events themselves. However, all the sex and blood utilised by Blasted does not succeed in highlighting anything new of relevance to an audience. We need not be personally introduced to fictional debauchery and bestiality to understand the horror of real occurrences. Our imagination, like the playwright’s, can create something far more horrifying than anything produced on stage.The play has the germ of a laudable concept, but the script is infected by a lack of substance. The audience is witness to death, rape, necrophilia, and the cannibalisation of a baby , all without clearly expressed meaning. The play does not even merit the dubious dignity of being branded sensationalist; it is not shocking but plainly absurd, rather a curious mixture of Sex And The City meets the Slater sisters.Archive: 0th HT 2004