Monday, March 8, 2010

GableStage: BLASTED (4 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of the controversial play BLASTED on February 27, 2010.
In 1995 BLASTED opened in London, making front-page headlines and outraging critics with its depiction of rape, torture and violence in civil war. Last season it finally reached New York, where it was produced off-Broadway to rave reviews, making the Top Ten lists of New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Magazine, Associated Press, Newsday and Time Out New York. Although it has been produced worldwide, this is only the second professional production in the United States.
Joe Adler directed a cast that included Todd Durkin, Betsy Graver, and Erik Fabregat.

The Sun-Sentinel has declined to review this production.

J. W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
We were warned. GableStage artistic director Joe Adler has called British playwright Sarah Kane’s Blasted, “the most talked about play no one has seen.” He took every effort to warn his subscribers and audiences about the topics of those conversations: adult language, full frontal nudity, simulated sexual acts, extreme violence, rape….the list goes on.
Blasted is only receiving its second staging in the U.S. and no company is better equipped to make sense of Kane’s schizophrenic script. Todd Allen Durkin and Betsy Graver, as Ian and Cate, deliver outstanding performances that will certainly put them in the hunt for this year’s Carbonell Awards nominations. Under the care of director Adler, the duo, along with Eric Fabregat as the soldier, never allow their characters to become caricatures.
Blasted is a far cry from Wicked, Jersey Boys and the Neil Simon plays that are packing local theaters this spring, but it is certainly the most thought-provoking.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:'ll feel... blasted... when you leave GableStage after the show. Ninety minutes of acts you've probably never seen before on the legitimate stage roll by and you sit there, wondering. What's left to show, where can theatre go after this … and do I really want to see the next step? Answers: nothing, I don't know and yes, yes, yes.
...despite the violence, the sex, the cruelty, and worse, there is a strong sense of tenderness that runs through this production; Ian with his love for Cate, the soldier with his horrors and Cate in her simpleness.
Joe Adler's direction is, as usual, just right, with Tim Connelly's set, Jeff Quinn's lighting and Matt Corey's sound driving the play without pause and with shocking effect.

Todd Allen Durkin is Ian, Erik Fabregat is the Soldier and Betsy Graver is Cate. “Is” is the operative word here. You won't see any acting on this stage.
If you're a lover of extraordinary theatre, see Blasted at GableStage. It will stay with you.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
Savaged by critics upon its debut and salvaged by hindsight after the 28-year-old author's (not-at-all-surprising-given-how-incredibly-fucking-twisted-her-imagination-was) suicide in 1999, Blasted has been called "filth," "pornography," and, later, "deeply moral."

For staid SoFla theater audiences, the savaging might be easier to understand than the salvaging — although Blasted is a great, and maybe a Great, play.
Durkin's portrayal of Ian is an image of power unmoored from responsibility.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Under Adler's direction, which avoids dialing up the drama in Kane's sparse dialogue, the three actors are fearless. Durkin's Ian is both bully and victim, Graver's Cate is vulnerable and ultimately heartbreaking, and Fabregat pulls off a mesmerizing feat of showing what lies beneath the dehumanized soldier's bravado.
The design and technical requirements of Blasted are, like the play itself, intense. Everyone involved -- set designer Tim Connelly, lighting designer Jeff Quinn, sound designer Matt Corey, costume designer Ellis Tillman and the behind-the-scenes crew -- performs just as successfully and fearlessly as the cast.
For me, watching Blasted was an intense yet at times distancing experience. Others will see it differently, and still others will opt not to see it at all. The one thing that anyone who decides to brave Blasted will not feel, however, is indifference.
Sarah Kane's BLASTED runs through March 28 at GableStage.


  1. Am I missing something, or does Brandon's review manage to NOT mention what theater this work is playing at, OR the famous/controversial producing-artistic director who chose and directed it? ... Also waaaay too many spoilers in this review, IMHO.

  2. See, Brandon? It's not just me.

    Non, Anonymous, you didn't miss what wasn't there: Brandon only made one reference to this particular production; the one I quoted.

    Brandon mostly failed to review the production, and instead reviewed the script.

  3. OK - so I usually have Brandon's back when people in the community BLAST him for his reviews, but I have to admit that I don't get this review at all. There is no mention of the director or the design team. There is no real critique of the actors. I have no idea if he liked the play or not. I am more confused about the merits of this production than ever before.

    I hate to say this but maybe we shouldn't even count this as a review. Maybe you should change the headline of your post to read
    GableStage : BLASTED (1 review)

    Come on Brandon, you are a much better writer than this.

  4. Just go see the production, and you'll be less confused about its merits.

  5. Sorry Anonymous number 2, but at $42.50 and $37.50 a ticket and with a script as polarizing as this one, I would like to read a review and know how a theatre expert would rate the merits of this production. Your point of "just go and see the production" negates the purpose of a theatre critic.

    Your friend
    Anonymous number 1

  6. Brandon is a very gifted writer, but is woefully underqualified to be a theatre critic. Sorry, B.- that's just the way I see it.

  7. You can't discuss a person's qualifications if you sign your name Anonymous. Are you qualified to rate theatre critics?

    The Real Anonymous