Monday, July 25, 2011

Blasted by Sarah Kane

Blasted by Sarah Kane

Blasted is a play about an explosion in a hotel room and how a woman, a man, and a soldier cope with the destruction.

Blasted begins as a mundane play. We are introduced to Cate and Ian, an on again- off again couple staying in a nice hotel. As the play begins, and well into the middle, the audience’s only real point of interest is the relationship the characters have with one another. As the play got going I was simply analyzing Cate and her naiveté and Ian’s miserable phoniness. Cate is a simple girl, defined by her childhood and her uncomplicated demeanor. Cate is young but you can tell that she has grown up quite a bit since knowing Ian. I got the impression that she was swept off her feet by Ian and has since been returned to solid ground. She is no longer charmed by Ian’s self-righteousness and false nonchalant manner. Cate reminds me of a woman who has crossed that line of innocence and isn’t really surprised by much anymore, but still maintains her virtue despite the things she has witnessed in her life.

Ian is a middle aged dying man and I think one of the reasons we don’t like him is phony sense of bravado and courage in the face of death by lung cancer, a sickness induced by his own nasty habits. He claims he isn’t afraid to die but when confronted with death in a real way he exclaims, “I don’t want to die!” Once the hotel is blasted we see the characters again in a new light. They are no longer people interacting with one another; they are now survivors battling death.

Before the blast Ian and Cate simply exist in their own everyday lives. Ian is a jerk with lung cancer and an exaggerated memory of being a soldier in his youth; he runs around pretending to be rugged with an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude that no one really buys. Cate is skeptical about Ian and accompanies him because she feels bad for him; she has an aging mother who she still lives with and a mentally disabled brother. After the blast Ian and Cate no longer exist in their every day lives, they are surviving the destruction around them and the Hell they are in.

What I love about Blasted is how the explosion allows the real characters to emerge and we get to understand them down to their cores. Cate tries saving a baby while Ian eats it, and Cate shares her hard earned food with Ian even though he doesn’t deserve it. I like the parallelism between Ian’s painful, and literal blindness and the blindness he lived in every day before the blast as an ignorant prick.

I think that Sarah Kane does an excellent job expressing her view of millennial Britain and how she almost defines Britain as a bombed hotel where the people kill, rape, and eat babies. The cynicism from this play just oozes from each page and while I think the metaphor may be a bit more blatant than that of Mark Ravenhill’s work, it is much more beautiful. The storyline glides along and it isn’t long before the audience stops being surprised about the events that unfold with no warning. When Ian’s eyes get sucked out I think I got over being shocked by this play and started becoming mesmerized.

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