The thing that makes me most sick is child abuse, when I think about it I want to vom more than I did when I was 3 and managed to find and down some Calpol. So why on earth I have recently been to see two plays about babies being abused, I cannot fathom. Twice now my Dad has kindly offered to take me to the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith and I think why not? It’s just down the road from my house and is ‘free’ etc.
It would be a different story had the management not changed. I used to work there…. Black trousers, red t- shirt, white writing, square on top of the ‘e’ of cafe (a punchy/trendy accent)minimum wage, odd gold star for good English – that type of thing. I only saw the job as a very short term, summer thing to make a bit of dosh so I could have approximately one night out in Ibiza’s Pacha. But after all my training (it took two months for me to do a chocolate heart on a cappuccino – the cappuccino being a latte, I could never master the foam) I felt so guilty I couldn’t possibly tell them the truth. So I said I was moving to New York, that I had been offered a job in publishing (I wish) and that I had to dash. Just to be extra convincing I think said I was going to marry my Texan boyfriend get my mits on a passport and never come back. An elaborate lie to say the least! The guilt really set in when they shut down the whole cafe to celebrate with shots and then spent all their tips showering me with going away presents. For months afterwards I’d have to walk past the café to get to the tube station, heart racing, just waiting to be asked ‘What on earth happened to New York?’
Anyhow, the point is I have been to see two plays at the Lyric lately… Saved by William Bond and Blasted by Sarah Kane – both have involved baby abuse.
Blasted is the story of a couple and a soldier stuck in the middle of a brutal war in a hotel room in Leeds. It involves rape, rape, the sucking out of eyes and the final straw – baby consumption… oh and a tiny bit more rape. Saved predominantly watches a sitting room where a couple, their daughter and her boyfriend live in domestic hell. A child is born, the parents refuse to have anything to do with it and so it cries constantly. The mother decides to leave the baby with the father and his friends who then start to abuse it – they throw stones at it, piss on it etc. They are addicted to causing harm to this tiny human life. And the thing is there are about 8 of them?? I may be living in a fantasy world but I would sincerely hope that one out of eight people would maybe step up and say ‘hold on a sec – this is a baby and very, very wrong’ Would they really all just get stuck in?
I know, I know, I know hyper-realism blah blah blah but if that is what it means, I am ok to ditch the hyper and stick with real.
The play eventually ends with the two couples sitting together in domestic hell once more, they are not tearing each other apart anymore but instead we get to check out a more silent misery. Life goes on… and I feel sh*t.
My sister is a theatre wizz and tells me how important these plays were, how much they challenged the critics and were even banned (I am not bloody surprised) etc, etc. SO perhaps if you are a theatre know all these plays may v be fascinating, but I just felt uncomfortable and sick. Something I don’t want to feel in my few hours of free time.
I guess the problem is that I cannot see the point in it… it JUST shocks. I don’t feel any lessons in morality slapping me in the face, just the reminder that this world can be a MASSIVELY screwed up place. My newspaper does a perfectly good job at that thanks. King Lear is also relentlessly brutal and has shocked many an audience… We watch Gloster’s eyes be pulled out (Blasted?), the deterioration of the mental state of an old man and two evil women (yes women – pretty shocking for the time) deceive, murder and destroy. But it’s Shakespeare and simply brilliant. One single line can catapult an entire philosophical argument at the audience ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport’ and ‘When we are born we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools’ I felt uncomfortable and sick throughout King Lear but these feelings were combined with appreciation and contemplation. Saved and Blasted provided no such combo.
The annoying thing is I know I’ve just been given a bit of a taste of my own medicine. I LOVE shocking…
I almost have tourettes. If someone is very straight and conservative I JUST cannot help banging on about when I first got my period or something of the like. The more shocked they seem, the further I go…. I watch them wince with awkwardness and get some strange kick out of it. So I do get where these plays are coming from but I just don’t want to pay to go see them anymore…………………..
Well, don’t want my Dad to.