Phew, this hits the spot, and hard. Kate Tempest’s debut Wasted is a punchy, poignant and perceptive play about life - if you can call it that (sob) - in London. The three protagonists may be in their mid-20s but their sagas and struggles, aspirations and hesitations will resonate with audiences in generations above and below. Jaded office-bot Ted, deluded musician Danny and disillusioned teacher Charlotte drizzle and dance their way through a single day in which everything and nothing happens. From humdrum beginnings to euphoric climax and quietly spent aftermath, the day’s non-events prove completely compelling. Ted (Cary Crankson), Charlotte (Lizzy Watts) and Danny (Ashley George) are rendered with such accuracy that, at times, it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. Partying and posturing, panicking and philosophising, the characters are so close to home that it regularly strikes a nerve - and many a funnybone.
Lizzy Watts (Charlotte) in Wasted at the Roundhouse, London (previous picture shows Ashley George) Photo: Richard Davenport
Tempest’s writing is smart and electric, all pith and wit, marking her out as one to watch. This may be her first play, but her poetry and rap experience shines through in the accomplished, confident script. The cast handle the fast-paced delivery with aplomb, and deliver expert physical performances - Crankson and George are so convincing during the pilled-off-their-faces club scene that you wonder what they took before the show. The stage pulses under the direction of Paines Plough’s James Grieve, while Kwake Bass’s live music transports the stage from studio to south London’s streets, parks, clubs and cafes.
If you ever get the feeling that you’d like to live a little bit more, a little bit differently, a little bit louder, seize the day and grab a ticket to this uplifting and lively production. Who’d have thought so little could amount to so much?