War is hell, as General Sherman famously said, and this shocking, hard-hitting play gives a little taste of just how bad war can get.
Sarah Kane blasted on to the British theatre scene 20 years ago with this work, as brilliantly written as it is tough to watch.
Director Richard Wilson doesn’t shy away from any of the difficult material, which includes rapes, violence and even cannibalism.
Events are set in an upmarket Leeds hotel room, where journalist and secret agent Ian (Martin Marquez) hopes to rekindle his relationship with young, disturbed Cate (Jessica Barden).
Cate’s fragility hides a tough inner core that can explode into anger.
The couple manage moments of tenderness but Ian can’t accept sexual rejection and rapes her.
Things change suddenly when the Soldier (a strong performance by Mark Stanley) bursts in and suddenly we’re in a war zone.
The Soldier taunts Ian with stories of torturing civilians before raping and blinding him.
Abuser becomes victim and Ian pitifully clings to life as Jessica does what she has to for both to survive.
Martin Marquez was utterly believable, transforming from an arrogant racist who justifies atrocities to protect our country into almost a baby. Jessica Barden was strong and came into her own in the final scenes.