Nineteen Twenty Nine Theatre Company
The Queens Hotel, Leeds
It's a decade since the first staging of Sarah Kane's Blasted at The Royal Court. Widely regarded as a shocker, I wonder why? It reeks of the 1970s and screams for the lightness of touch of an Alan Brown or Joe Orton.
It features masturbation, oral sex, rape (front and back), the sucking out of eye balls, and cannibalism... all in a suite at The Queens Hotel, Leeds. So cheers to the Queens for providing a home for this production.
And cheers also to Nineteen Twenty Nine for exploding Blasted to audiences of a dozen or so on Floor Eight. The enthusiasm and excitement were tangible.
But sadly the production doesn't work. We, the audience, are asked to wear white cloths with eye-holes as we move between bedroom and lounge of the hotel suite. This sets up a comedic atmosphere which I assume the production team didn't really want. Added to this, there was a technician/stage manager ill-concealed in the wardrobe. Perhaps it was a comedy and nobody told me.
Worse, the sound track, which is supposed to indicate street fighting, explosions, and indeed, someone shooting himself in the doorway of the bedroom, was muffled and muddy and failed to do any of these things! And I only knew that 'the soldier' sucked out Ian's eyes because I talked to someone who knew the play (same goes for him shooting himself).
It would have seemed like a rather good idea to stage this play for small audiences in the location where it is thought to be set. But strangely it felt much less 'real' than if it had been on any kind of stage. It might have been the cotton cloths, it might have been the soldier's strange rambling accent, or all the fully clothed sex. But I think it was something more fundamental than that.
However, raise a glass for the right to fail. And to Nineteen Twenty Nine - a company with imagination, energy, enthusiasm.
Reviewer: Ray Brown