Written by a dramatist whose life ended in suicide, Blasted is a play about not being able to kill yourself.  “It’s wrong,” says Cate (Marin Ireland), an idiot savant or simply an abused retarded girl, “God wouldn’t like it.”  “There is none,” says Ian (Reed Birney), her rapist, a friend of the family’s.

Sarah Kane’s death wish is mundane, brutal, at the top reminiscent of early Pinter in The Dumbwaiter, where two killers wait on instructions to proceed with murder. “Could you shoot me?” Cate asks Ian. Then, after learning that he is a killer himself, she continues, “Could you kill someone else?”  The two settle for a cat-and-mouse game of perpetual sexual coercion, always ending in the barnyard. Unrelentingly logical, at every turn, the yearning solution for the characters’ condition is suicide: We watch Cate continuously sexually exploited, ultimately being raped while unconscious. When, according to Ian, she does get aroused during the night, he bites her so hard that she doesn’t stop bleeding.  The next day while giving him a blow job, she bites him back.

Kane’s an expert on the games men can play and how they work them, how all roads lead to sex in the boredom and immobility of a real or imagined room for two, whether it belongs to Pinter or not. Toward the end of the play, Ian desperately puts a gun in his mouth and starts firing, finding the chambers empty; his engulfment in a Darwinian context is about all that makes us feel for him at all, if we can. That and Kane’s strategy to make him ill. This night of continuous sex can only be viewed metaphorically, unless Ian’s popping Viagra and vitamins in the wings.  He’s a middle-aged burnout, a chain-smoker who has lost part of his lung, an imbibing, depressed alcoholic who chokes up cancerous bile: Then Kane turns the tables on him hard, as the context shifts from a motel near a parking lot or highway to a war zone. Payback for an accumulation of transgressions where men abuse women, Blasted becomes an antimale revenge fantasy—and Ian, an unsuspecting sexual object himself.               

The play also goes beyond Pinter and calls to mind Beckett, Shakespeare, Brook, and Sophocles.  Whatever the  style, though, the vision is not someone else’s:  Godot’s existential complaint, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on” sounds like preschool jabbering compared to Kane’s theme, “I can’t kill myself, it’s not nearly as hard to kill others.” It’s a play that instills fear for family and country, written in England during a time, in 1995, when experiencing terrorism was virtually unknown to most Americans.

An Islamic soldier (Louis Cancelmi) enters.  He’s witnessed inexplicable atrocities during war. They either have made him mad or driven out his soul.  Left alone with Ian in the motel, which has been blown up, he becomes a sexual predator’s sexual predator.  After bouts of sodomizing, using the barrel of a rifle in one case, the soldier ingests Ian’s eyes. 

Near the end of this first-rate production from Soho Rep, there’s a paradoxically beautiful image of Ian’s head, bloody eyed, rain pouring over it, his body buried—man becoming part of nature again, not controlling it.  It becomes apparent, in Blasted, that Kane believed our planet’s biological cataclysm is not going to happen very far in the future, it happened millennia ago.  We are a mistake of genetics, where, albeit in extreme conditions, Ian can cannibalize a dead baby.  He is a man who has gone through an evening of transgressions and mutilations who is hardly able to thank Cate for a sausage she has acquired on the black market by trading sex (which he earlier had disapproved of).  In Bergman’s Shame—where a war is taking place both in a couple’s homeland and in their own relationship–a man is impelled to become stronger in order to survive. Kane tells us that survival is not enough. Even without 20/20 hindsight, Blasted is as convincing an argument as any that suicide is moral.

–Bob Shuman, © 2008



by Sarah Kane
directed by Sarah Benson 

New York Premiere–extended through Dec 21, 2008

Featuring:  Reed Birney, Louis Cancelmi & Marin Ireland

Set Design


Louisa Thompson

Lighting Design


Tyler Micoleau

Sound Design


Matt Tierney

Costume Design


Theresa Squire

Props Master


Sarah Bird

Technical Director


Billy Burns

Stage Manager


Danielle Monica Long

$55 Regular

$65 Premium Reserved Seats   

All performances Tues-Sun at 7:30pm
No performance Thanksgiving Day, Nov 27



Jack Doulin

Public Relations


Sam Rudy Media Relations



Melissa Ross

Graphic Design


An Art Service

Soho Rep.
46 Walker Street
New York, NY 10013
2 blocks below Canal Street
between Broadway and Church
ACENRQW6 to Canal, 1 to Franklin

Tel: (212) 941-8632
Fax: (212) 941 7148
Email: sohorep @ sohorep.org
Web: www.sohorep.org

Press contact | Sam Rudy Media Relations
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