Wasted by Kate Tempest was the perfect choice for Southwark Playhouse’s Young Company to perform. The Young Company is a dynamic group of 14-25 year olds who train for free at the Southwark Playhouse. Wasted was performed by the 19-25 class and it was like no other cast I had seen before. They were all animated and forceful with a mix of nationalities and backgrounds, yet the group felt like a community – very much like London itself.
It’s rare to have a cast of 15 nowadays, so it was intriguing to see what the Young Company could achieve with these numbers. They used a larger ensemble group alongside three main character roles which worked well in highlighting the society message in the play’s text. For example, the ensemble tore up papers with political figures on them to emphasise ‘a change is coming’ with reference to the soon approaching election.
The rhythm of Tempest’s writing came from the ensemble. Tempest deals mostly in spoken word and this was accented well by the rhythm of the ensemble. They also played as narrator, they shared lines and moved together. It would be unfair to credit one or two actors in this review as the company worked as a whole and contained some very talented actors. The ensemble also helped create the energy onstage for the three main protagonists. This was especially successful when they were in a club moving in slow motion whilst the protagonist were at full speed. I have seen this done before but the reason it worked so well this time was due to the diverse mix of young people – it actually felt like a club in Southwark.
The message of the play was a generational one: the synopsis of a young friend passing ten years ago to the day and what these three people had achieved in their lives since. You cleverly knew where you were in the play at all times because the space was surrounded by projections. A projection of a park bench on a miserable looking day was all the audience needed to know we were at a grave site. The sound design was prominent too with the ambient sounds of the city bringing all the different the locations together.
The production was not faultless by any means, but this is a young training company and with such diversity it created something with integrity. Wasted was the ideal choice for this company as the play ultimately asked questions of what they – as young people – could achieve or not achieve in ten years and what they wanted out of life because the characters in the play are now “too old to be young anymore”.
Wasted is playing at Southwark Playhouse until 11 April. For tickets and more information, see the Southwark Playhouse website.