Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS.
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This may seem a strange subject to write on, now that this season has ended, but don't stop reading here, because if only for future reference, these plays should be seen wherever they are performed in the future. Sarah Kane committed suicide aged 28 in the winter of 1999, leaving a small but crucial collection of plays.The Royal Court, where for a while Ms Kane was writer-in-residence, performed most of her work in her lifetime, and recently had a season of her work, with rehearsed readings and productions of her plays. To coincide with this season, Channel 4 also screened her short film, Skin. The season began in March with a mainstage production of what many thought at its first production in 1998, was mere controversial railings. At its new airing, almost all of the critics that were originally scathing, apologised and loved it.Perhaps seeing it after her death enabled them to view it in a new light. This play and the two rehearsed readings and the final play, 4.48 Psychosis, were all directed by James Macdonald, the director who first staged them too. Blasted has as its main protagonist, a journalist called Ian, a sexist, racist man, but one with feelings. The play is set in a hotel room in Leeds in the midst of a war, and Ian is there with his girlfriend Kate. After a few drinks, the action moves forward to the following morning, where it is fairly clear that Ian has raped Kate, for which she attempts to revenge herself. The play deftly illustrates how human emotion works, and then suddenly, a soldier bursts in, and rapes Ian. The final scene sees Ian, who has had his eyes eaten out by the soldier, being fed and cared for by Ian, a scene truly moving. The space of the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs is very intimate, but the set for Blasted was a hotel room, and after the soldier's entrance, the room is blown up. Sarah Kane managed to convey how war is so much closer, actually in our own rooms, than we ever imagine, and that ultimately, th e human act of caring for those that have hurt us, restores ones faith in human nature. A truly astonishing play, one which i would recommend to theatre lovers to see whenever it is next performed. I will write about the last two plays and the rehearsed readings in a different op, otherwise this will be interminably long.