As reporter Ian (Reed Birney) and his former mistress Cate (Marin Ireland) enter the posh Leeds hotel room that’s the setting for Soho Rep’s production of Blasted, Ian casually hangs the do not disturb sign on the doorknob. It’s a witty grace note to begin the late Sarah Kane’s buffet of calculated outrage, since the play’s designed expressly to disturb—as it did the critics who railed against it when it opened in London in 1995, and as it does the critics who’ve been hailing its first New York production. Soon Ian’s dangerous appetites—for gin, for cigarettes, for sex with damaged Cate—are replaced by those of a brutal, desperate soldier (Louis Cancelmi) who breaks into the room. Less a drama than a cleverly constructed series of escalating assaults on its characters and audience, Blasted has lost none of its power, thanks not only to the punch of Kane’s writing but to Sarah Benson’s production—especially her technical team, whose mid-show transformation of the hotel room into a hellish netherworld is as shocking and revelatory as all the dead babies Blasted can throw in your face.
By Sarah Kane
At Soho Rep. Through December 21.