Wasted by Kate Tempest

Picture by Richard Davenport

Billed as “A day-glo trip through the parks and raves and cafes of South London.”, I wasn’t sure what to expect from performance poet Kate Tempest’s debut play, Wasted.

The show has, quite possibly, the most impressive production-pedigree of a new work (including, Paines Plough, Birmingham Rep, Roundhouse, National Student Drama Festival and Latitude Festival) I’ve seen in a long time. That, coupled with the ‘street-cred’ of the performance venue, (The Brewery at the Tobacco Factory) this production is sure to be a hit, whether the audience ‘gets it’ or not.

From the start Wasted portrays an urban (albeit London-centric), aggressive and in-yer-face-youth-culture-landscape that can be a bit earnest and worthy at times. However, once you get past the extraneous projections of the actors (displaying a myriad of woeful expressions) on a massive and distracting screen, coupled with the steamrolling-Ginsbergesque-poetry punctuating the scenes, the ‘meat’ of the piece begins to emerge. What we finally get is the juxtaposition of three young adults ‘wasting’ their lives while at the same time, longing for something better. They make small steps to achieve their dreams, but quickly fall back into the comfort of familiar patterns and roles. All you want is for them is to realise they do have the ability to grab what they want and for them to just bite the bullet and take hold of their destiny.

There are some fine performances, particularly from Cary Crankson (Ted), who, despite a shaky start, captures your heart (and the entire point of the play), in his delicate and truthful reactions to the mundane phone call from his girlfriend insisting he go to Ikea after a night of partying with his mates. It is in this scene particularly where the ‘specific becomes universal’ and everyone, no matter what age, upbringing or social class can relate to the piece and to the struggle the characters face.


Wasted is more of an experience than a play, but certainly worth seeing, even if just for the atmosphere of Kate Tempest’s lyrical talent.

You can catch the remaining performances at The Brewery at the Tobacco Factory until the 31st of March. It then will continue on its tour (Click here for details) until May of this year.

(*** ½ )

Alison Farina

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