There’s a pulse in the air, palpable, as Kate Tempest circles the stage. For this, her first full length, solo theatre piece - a modern parable cooked up in collaboration with the BAC - her words have been set to a score by Nell Catchpole and she’s accompanied throughout by a four-piece band. It’s a blissful union. The music only heightens the cinematic quality of her writing, as she zooms in and pans out on her characters, telling stories of everyday gods leading everyday lives. Tempest ekes the beauty from her multi-stranded narrative of young men flaring and old men fading. There is violence in the lives she describes but also a lake-like capacity for love, deep and cleansing. As the bassline beds in, Tempest strobes and strives and soars, and for a short while she makes an urban church of this weathered council chamber, pacing its worn, wooden floors, riding the swell of a cello. Even taking into account the occasional verbal trip-up, she’s a captivatingly open performer, a mesmerising presence.
Midway through the piece she focuses her frustration on the way in which we so readily create false, glowing idols to worship when we don’t even know the names of our neighbours. And while her scything of celebrity culture isn’t the most incisive you’ll ever hear, her anger is true and her words have real heat to them. They are necessary words and Tempest’s is a necessary voice.