Two things to remember when you see the current Buddies In Bad Times Production of Blasted;
1/ when the stage directions frighten you, you know you’re in for a terrifying and visceral ride in the country
2/ when the stage directions seem impossible to actually produce, and you know the director has a knack for making the implausible look very real and very frightening, you’re in for a terrifying and visceral ride in the country
It could be just about any posh hotel room, in just about any country, but it cannot be anything other than terrifying and visceral if it’s going to work - perhaps the best words to describe director Brendan Healey’s production of Sarah Kanes Blasted - terrifying and visceral - and it works!!!
Initially perceived by critics as a vulgar piece of shock value theatrical warfare, the play has become a contemporary classic that is truly Shakespearean and extremely queer as it moves through a series of extended tableaus, with sex, dialogue, and man to man lusty brutality that shakes the flaming stick at cross-cultural homophobia in a striking and complex manner.
As social commentary Blasted achingly reminds many of us of our privilege, and how that privilege can be literally shattered and torn apart, from the outside in, even when we are feeling safe inside pricey lodgings.
Daivd Ferry as the lead male character is superb as he delivers a breakneck performance . His interpretation of Ian, the gun wielding rebel without a cause, is a truly mesmerizing portrait of how skewed romantic notions of love can include abuse, racism, and, well, lets keep the worst part of his appetites a secret for the faint of heart. Ferry is a superb interpreter of the physicality of this complex monster, and manages, against all odds, to bring depth and seamy, questionable substance to a shallow and deplorable character.
Similarly, Michelle Monteith’s Cate is an exquisite mixture of childish, traumatized femininity that knows how to survive in the worst situation imaginable. Although a much smaller part than the two principles, Dylan Smith’s Soldier matches, measure for measure, his co-stars craft with the crucial violence of the piece as he rounds out a three hander ensemble that has pulled out all the stops, giving the audience close to tow hours of stomach churning action packed misadventure
The tendency to write this play off as a vulgar piece of gratuitous stage indecency is reductionist at best. Kane’s ability to create profound socially conscious moments throughout seem timeless as they remind us of every global atrocity-cum-conflict we hear, and see image of, through daily media accounts. Kane has given us those accounts in a meta-theatrical way by crafting a journalist character into a psychopath who balks at the kind brutal reality that his public doesn’t care to read about.
But there is a a price to pay for the casual ways in which culture ignores what is right in front of us. By literally inviting us in through the back door of the theatre, the Buddies production brings it all into our collective living rooms as a captive audience, thereby living up to every grueling moment of Kane’s relentless dramaturgy. We are left breathless and overwhelmed by superb acting skill and superb drama as we laugh, cry, cringe, squirm, and finally file out of the beautifully designed battleground and back into our own little televised lives.
BLASTED RUNS AT BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE UNTIL OCTOBER 17TH