Much more sophisticated and stylish in design than the usual fare in the Fusebox Theatre, Wasted is a mix of spoken word, music and drama that is difficult to pigeon-hole as a genre. This is the first play by London-based rapper and poet Kate Tempest, it first appeared in 2012 to rave reviews. Kate’s performance poetry has been going from strength to strength and she is single-handedly bringing poetry rap into the mainstream: last year her BBC2 debut was described as the place where ‘pop, poetry and politics collide’*
The show started with a brief poetry slam, a theme of which was the disillusionment of the Millennial Gen and the futility of the so-called Protestant work ethic that is not seen as a way out for this generation. This theme was carried into Tempest’s play, as three twenty-somethings grapple with finding meaning in their lives.
Charlotte, Danny and Ted are reeling and trying to make sense of their lives on the anniversary of another mate’s death. They are struggling with dead-end jobs, unfulfilling relationships and are seeking a way out, the problem is that old habits die hard and they keep getting stuck in a routine of getting ripped, coming down and recovery. The final recovery phase is almost always accompanied by pledges of change to improve their lives, until the cycle starts again. Even as Danny speaks to Ted about changing, they pop pills and smoke until they are fucked up yet again.
Jack Crumlin, David Harrison and Eliza Scott give amusing and authentic performances as they reminisce about Tony, the dead friend. Their memories are unreliable, though, Ted struggles remembering anything that he and Tony actually did together, but he recalls their time together as being happy, nonetheless. The point of the play seems to be that the past was a mostly happy place, while the present is a depressing drudge that offers no glimpses of hope, unless a day at Ikea does it for you. The nostalgic trio have good intentions but lack any real agency to effect change, though, so they remain stuck.
While disillusionment as a theme is nothing new – far from it, the format and style that Tempest conveys the message with keeps us engaged and adds another dimension to what could have been a ho-hum exercise. Sound design by Tegan Nicholls also worked well in a subtle fusion with stylistic lighting by Nick Fry to further enhance the production.
A definite must-see, Wasted is on at the Factory Theatre’s Fusebox theatre until 9 Dec, for more details and tickets see: https://tkcaus.com/
Featuring: Jack Crumlin, David Harrison and Eliza Scott.
Creative/Tech Team: Elsie Edgerton-Till (director), Tyler Ray Hawkins (designer), Tegan Nicholls (sound design), NIck Fry (lighting design), Bella Debbage (assistant director), Jess Bell (stage manager), Jessica Pantano, Michelle Sverddloff & Kings Collective (producers).
*Alexis Petridis ‘The Guardian’ 7 Oct 2016