Kate Tempest’s spoken word script flows like water out of the mouths of the actors, gently cascading between the three as they recite different parts of her poetry during the transition scenes. Face-on with the audience, they observe, dissect, and analyse the difficulties of today’s 20-something professional, living in London with little money, and a general feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction – #firstworldproblems.
Beth Kapila treats the individuals as a unit, requires them to be so in sync with each other that moving the text between them is as effortless as a flowing river; the babbling of the language as it echoes through the audience. This is a performance with concept, execution, and style pouring forth from all.
Kapila directs Kate Tempest’s Wasted as part of the Stomping Ground Festival, a Young Director’s training programme set up by StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Charlotte (Chioma Anyanwu), Ted (Jack Boswell), and Danny (Ludovic Hughes) epitomise the latest generation of working professionals, a clash of worlds where each person feels trapped in their own situation.
Ted (Boswell), stuck in a suited-and-booted job that he can’t escape, is tied down by responsibilities of property, a partner, and possessions that need buying from IKEA. This is the performance to watch, Boswell conveying all senses of hopelessness about his character deeply rooted in naivety. So young, yet so full of regret at a life not yet lived.
Danny (Hughes) gives a similarly charismatic performance. Already past his prime as a musician in his twenties, he is fruitlessly pursuing his ambitions of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Danny muses about changing and convinces himself that this time it will stick, he will become a new man and keep the love of his life, Charlotte (Anyanwu).
The three characters rave together to reminisce about their misspent youth, a lifestyle that Danny has never matured out of. Charlotte (Anyanwu) is less convincing as the others, but gains in confidence as the play progresses. A teacher that hates her students, she packs it all in to travel the world – the dream that all in her position have fantasised about on more than one occasion. But the reality catches up and she backs out at the last minute. The idea of changing your life is the fuel that keeps us going, the hope of a fairytale ending.
Kapila has a detailed understanding of Tempest’s text and provides the burning platform, the impetus needed for all characters to jump into the unknown. A simple set, and basic lighting and sound design, complements the performances and raises the script that is the unequivocal star of the show here.
A lot of work has clearly been done to engender a collective amidst the actors, such that they can effortlessly bounce off each other and maintain the pulse of the play. Wasted is relevant, well-matched to the festival audience, and expertly realised in a fringe setting.
Wasted played The Albany as part of Stomping Ground Festival on 16 March.