Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Three Dark British Plays

These are three of the darkest plays I've ever read. They're also all by British playwrights. They're more than slightly traumatizing, but I was not been able to put any of them down. With the one I did see, Blasted, I had the strange sensation of being moved and wishing the play would end as soon as possible so that I could leave the theatre-back to a safer place. These are not comfortable plays and that's why I think I love them-I see way to much unchallenging theatre. If you have time to read at least one of these, you'll be doing your psyche a favor.

Last year I had the opportunity to see Sarah Kane's Blasted at SoHo Rep upon a pre-move visit to New York. It features one of the most stunning set transformations I have ever witnessed and two incredibly skilled performances. It remains one of the most haunting theatre experiences I've ever had and continues to be a touchstone among theatre artists for groundbreaking theatre in New York.

British teenagers. Yet their conversations are more adult than most I've ever heard. I could listen to them talk all day. Simon Stephens' Punk Rock is crude, funny, and charming until...it's not. The ending had my stomach churning with horror and sickly sweet empathy-or was it pity? I had to crawl under the covers after I finished this one.

Imagine Peter Pan meets Lord of the Flies meets Where the Wild Things Are and you'd have done a halfway decent job of describing Polly Stenham's Tusk Tusk. What if the Darlings had never come home for their children that night in Peter Pan? What if Peter had never taken the children to Neverland? This is a story of true abandonment, loss and self-preservation.


Jenny Lane said...

BLASTED is one of my favorite plays, and the SoHo Rep production is in my Top Three Best Live Performances Ever. I will definitely have to check out these other two plays, as I'm not familiar with them -- thanks for the suggestion!

Ian said...

You'll want to read the others in one sitting-it was just about impossible to put them down!

Unknown said...

Hi. Just wondering, in line with this, if you can think of any other dark/disturbing plays you have read or scene.
I'm looking for something to perform for a drama school graduation showcase.
Many thanks. Shane :)