Blasted Background

Blasted Background

Highly controversial in its time, Blasted is British author Sarah Kane's first and last play, performed in London at the prominent Royal Court Theatre. The play has many shocking and rather gruesome elements, causing many critics to be disturbed as it featured rape, prostitution, suicide, mutilation etc.

The play follows Ian, a filthy minded journalist, and innocent Cate, as they spend the night together in hotel room in Leeds. It is later revealed that there is a war going on outside, when a bomb detonates and a hole is 'blasted' in the wall, exposing them to the dangers of war. However, it is arguable that war and conflict were already present in their relationship.

When the play was first performed in the mid 90's, it was subject to incredibly harsh criticism from both critics and the audience. Even now people continue to interpret the play's graphic content as senseless violence, however, in keeping with the style of 90's In-Yer-Face theatre, there was a strong message behind the horror of Blasted. The play is very much inspired by the war in Bosnia that was ongoing during Kane's writing process. She wanted to highlight how war time atrocities, such as rape, mutilation, murder etc., can occur in peaceful areas, and that we cannot ignore such awful instances just because they typically happen to working class people. So she set the drama in a Leeds hotel room, with working characters who are subjected to awful treatment at the hands of each other, and later a soldier. The play is a statement about the state of society at the time. It is also important to note that Kane herself suffered from severe depression, something that would eventually kill her, and that could be a contributing factor to the consistently dark undercurrent running throughout all of her work.

Although Blasted was first extremely negatively received by critics in its time, critics nowadays believe its brutal scenes to be a poetic statement. The critic Ken Urban says that "for Kane, hell is not metaphysical: it is hyperreal, reality magnified". Nowadays, the brilliance of Kane acknowledged by industry professionals, and the cult fan followings of her work. With hindsight, the simple message behind the brutal scenes in Blasted shines through, and it is seen as pivotal piece of 1990's drama.

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