When you mull over Blasted after seeing Luna Theater Company's production - it's a hugely uncomfortable yet tantalizing play that forces you to run the tape in your mind once you're home - you eventually understand what Kane was getting at, even if you didn't know what she'd said about her intent.
It is raw, with lots of boldly simulated sex in lots of ways, and its 90 minutes become more willfully indulgent as they progress - Kane's shock-theater inventory includes not just the stuff on the shelves, but a warehouse of surplus. By the middle of it all - scenes between a gun-toting paranoid man (John Jezior) and his stuttering, epileptic, and younger ex-lover (Haley McCormick) and then, with a torture- and death-mongering soldier - I began to question Blasted's ever-more-graphic quality. But not its level of honest intensity.
Can the two be separated for the play to effectively achieve its goals? The meticulous production, staged by Luna's producing artistic director, Gregory Scott Campbell, makes a strong case that they cannot, aided by Dirk Durossette's shabby hotel-room design and performed by the three outstanding actors who inhabit potent roles without a hint of false emotion. (A special nod to their dialect coach, Neill Hartley.)
Campbell goes for the extremes without a hint of hesitation, and the actors follow through like athletes in a championship game, honoring Kane's in-your-face intent. It was a tad too close to my face - which hardly made me comfortable with Blasted. And which is clearly the way Kane wanted it.
Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727 or email@example.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/howardshapiro. Follow him on Twitter at #philastage.