Thu 28th February 2013


Christine Foley

at 09:07 on 1st Mar 2013



A wide screen with the word WASTED, surrounded by speakers, sets the stage for Kate Tempest’s first play. Loud rave music pulses through the theatre as the audience take their seats. The screen lights up. We see three characters, a worn out teacher, a man in a dead end job and a hipster looking guy doing lines of cocaine. The music gets louder, uncomfortably so, then cuts out. Three characters bounce onto the stage and we are immediately immersed into the fast paced poetry of the play. The characters that we’ve just seen on the screen jump to life. They each hold a microphone and look bewildered, confused. They admit that they have no idea what we’re all doing, sitting in the audience. They begin by telling us that they have no “incredible truth” to express, no “deeper meaning.” They simply want to show “something honest.” The lines are delivered in a lyrical rap. The characters, Ted, Danny and Charlotte, finish each other’s sentences. There is an immediate sense of union between these characters, but this sense is overshadowed by a deep disappointment with the world.

For the rest of the play, Tempest gives us life. Life as we know it. Life as the characters used to know it. They reminisce about the good old days when they “got wasted in raves and felt Godlike.” The action is set on the anniversary of the death of their friend. This event pulls the three together to go on one last big night out. Ted, played by Cary Crankson, describes his dead end job and lack lustre relationship. The lines are witty; a dark humour constantly surrounds Ted. Crankson plays the part superbly, in his dull business suit he reveals the unease and utter lack of drive that Ted has. He shows the blatant ‘giving in’ that Ted has succumbed to.

The characters each deliver monologues, one as strong as the other.

Danny, played by Bradley Taylor, tells us about his band, how they’re going to make it, how they’ll be discovered one day, how everything is changing. On stage are people you know, people you see everyday, people you hear about, people you laugh with and people you laugh at. Danny is the guy with the “ironic trousers” and friends with “adjectives instead of names.” Charlotte, played by Lizzy Watts, describes her job, her sense of drowning and claustrophobia. She describes walking out of the school. “I’m changing things. This is it.” The audience breathes. There is a sense of freedom, excitement.

Suddenly, we are in a rave. Ted, Charlotte and Danny are celebrating “the first weekend of the rest of their lives.” We see them dance, we feel the beat of the music, the exhilaration, the party, but as the drugs take control, the friends become caricatures. They move around the stage, faces and limbs contorted, they are in a drug induced stupor. The realisation hits; this is not freedom. This is a waste. They express their love for one another. They talk about “substance” about the need to feel “something.” Slowly, as they come down off their high, Ted starts to see the ridiculousness of it all. He talks about ‘Ikea’ and making decisions and how you just have to get on with it. Danny clings to the past, unwilling to let go but Ted calls him on it. “Danny, I’m sorry, but your band’s no good, mate.”

Then we are back to square one. Charlotte, despite her desire to travel, to get away, never gets on her plane. Danny snorts cocaine while deciding to give up drugs and Ted has long given in and gone back to his tedious lifestyle.

The harsh reality is that these characters are “too old to be young anymore.”

This stark realism hits hard. Tempest, through driving lyrical poetry and intense dialogue, gives us a real sense of what is it to grow up. The play ends on the note that life is for more than getting wasted, but Tempest does not make her characters heroes and we start to believe what one of them has already said, “You don’t have the right to happiness.”


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