It's not easy to shock audiences today, but the U.K.'s National Theatre has found a way to do it.
The new production of Sarah Kane's Cleansed contains scenes of sadistic violence so graphic that it has prompted "dozens" of walkouts and caused at least five people to faint during its first six performances, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Written in the 1990s and first staged at the Royal Court in 1998, the drama depicts a "university that is turned into a sadistic totalitarian institution" and contains scenes of electrocution, torture and, in the first act, the removal of one character's tongue.
Kane, who committed suicide in 1999 at the age of 28, spent her brief four-year career pouring her own tortured psyche into plays including Blasted, Phaedra’s Love and 4.48 Psychosis.
The current production is directed by Katie Mitchell, who said in an interview that performing the play has also taken its toll on the cast members who have been subject to “very strange nightmares where very extreme events take place.”