Wasted, Kate Tempest

When you walk into an auditorium to see a backdrop full of speakers you know you’ve come to a play with something to say. Since it’s coming from the mind of Kate Tempest, you know it will say it, and say it beautifully. In an article by Abigail Lewis elsewhere on A Younger Theatre, Tempest is quoted as saying: “I want my audience to leave feeling like they’ve been spoken to. I want them to feel uplifted, inspired, ready to tackle their demons.” She has managed this. Brilliantly.

Wasted is the debut (and hopefully not the last) play from the young performance poet and rapper, festival favourite and front woman of live three-piece Sound of Rum. The play focuses on three friends in their mid-twenties, Dan, Ted and Charlotte, on the anniversary of the death of an old friend. Over the course of this day the trio confront the changes they need to make in their lives in order to become the people they imagined themselves as when they were younger, but have they the courage to make these changes?

Watching Wasted it is like watching something made by your friends because you see them, and yourself, in the characters onstage. You have felt their dilemmas, frustrations and confusions; you’ve had their conversations. For the audience of twenty-somethings, Wasted aims straight for the heart.

The play really hits a peak during the sensational clubbing scene that perfectly charts the progression of a night out. From the initial buzz, to the manic dancing, to the overflowing affection for everyone, to the back rubbing of the super-wasted friend to the head splitting aftermath in the greasy caff the next morning. It is a joy to watch, and clever, as though it all seems great fun, the friend’s conversations, (frighteningly familiar), reveal how their behaviour is trapping them.

The space of the Albany is used well, featuring a large backdrop used simply but to good effect, with projections of locations or close-ups of faces during soliloquies. Scenes were broken up by Tempest’s trademark rap poetry that has substance as well as style, delivered directly to the audience. Cary Crankson, Ashley George and Lizzy Watts are warm, natural and vivacious performers who seem to have jumped straight out of your life and onto the stage, testament to the sharp observational skills and writing talent of the author. A great score featuring live drumming adds a real blast of youthful atmosphere and energy.

Tempest champions the young getting their writing into the theatre, seeing it as the only way they will cease to be alienated from an art form dominated mainly by the elder middle classes with nothing to say that youth can relate to or take much interest in. Wasted radiates youth in its energy, its music, its passion, its language and its content, dealing as it does with the crises faced by those who are nearing the edge of their youth, ending with the choiring shout to those frightened to face their changes: there is more to you than your routine, you deserve what you dare to want and there is more to your life than getting wasted.

Wasted is currently on tour.