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Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review

Doing to them what they done to us, what good is that?— Soldier
Danny Webb as Ian and Lydia Wilson as Cate (Photo: Simon Kane)
Once described as a "disgusting feast of filth", Sarah Kane's first play Blasted has been revived by Sean Holmes and the Lyric Hammersmith. With Blasted having already such a unique and alarming reputation, it was with great trepidation that I approached this play well-known for its shockingly violent moments. It is a play that tremendously abuses the audience and is certainly not for the easily offended. On the other hand, Holmes's production is so crisp, beautifully constructed and well thought out that regardless of whether you find Kane's writing unnecessarily offensive, you can appreciate the professional perfection of this production.

Blasted unmasks the horrors of our world. It places the evilness of perverts and rapists on the same playing field as the everyday atrocity of war, challenging the audience to fundamentally take note of the horrific events that may be occurring around us. It is constructed with five scenes. We begin in an up-market hotel room in what is seemingly a recognizable world. Ian, a racist and bigoted journalist has been having an affair with an under age, epileptic and intellectually fragile girl called Cate. After witnessing several sexual acts between the couple, the hotel room is hit by a mortar and the world of the play comes crashing down into an almost hell like domain. The sudden introduction of a Soldier really clarifies the atrocious acts that are played before us and we are reminded that all over the world war, rape and torture is being enacted.

Danny Webb is superb as the politically grotesque Ian. His diction and general manner on the stage is suitably painful to hear and watch. Ian plays host to many of the play's more offensive moments but Webb always manages to keep them at a level of intellect. This is an exceptional and tiring performance from Webb that certainly should demand praise and reward. Lydia Wilson is also commendable as the emotionally distorted Cate. Her stammer is at times a little unconvincing but one can argue how real does one portray certain characteristics in a world that is already so demented? Finally, Aidan Kelly is a daunting and powerful Soldier. It is a skill to find comedy out of the most warped situations and Kelly's excellent timing efficiently turns some scenes of horror into humour.

Holmes's direction is outstanding and every intolerable pause and fearful movement seems painfully thought out. It is also fair to say that Paul Wills's set design contributes greatly to the overall professional quality. It is incredibly difficult to remain detached from such daringly abusive content but Paule Constable's lighting design combined with Wills's grand empty ruins of the later half of the play gives the impression of a deep void that makes the action seemingly rather distant.

This is a production that is difficult to approach objectively in a review and there are some parts that will stick in my mind for a very long time. For instance the hauntingly repetitive squeaking of the bed during a certain rape scene but I do think it is important that we are tested
especially at times when atrocities are happening very close to home yet we still manage to turn the other cheek.

For a review of a production of the play (different actors and director) that made a big stir in New York a couple of years ago go here(2008)

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Blasted by Sarah Kane
Directed by Sean Holmes

Starring: Danny Webb, Lydia Wilson and Aidan Kelly
Design: Paul Wills
Lighting: Paule Constable
Sound: Christopher Shutt
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 0870 050 0511
Booking to 20th November 2010
A Lyric Hammersmith Production
Reviewed by Tim Newns based on 1st November 2010 production at the Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King St, London W6.

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