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Photo by Robert Catto

The Kings Collective, presents, WASTED, by Kate Tempest, at the Old Factory, Marrickville. 1 – 9 December.

Kate Tempest is a British Poet, Performance Artist, Playwright and Novelist, a dynamic artist (slam-poetry) who has – is – speaking for a generation trying to find the way-to-survive in the modern world through a disillusioned lens. Her passions were ignited as a young woman and flashed into perspective, she has said, when the London March (and others) against the Iraq War, in which millions of people participated, was ignored, and made no difference to the World Governments’ direction – disillusionment colours her work, although hope is her objective.

WASTED is her first play, written in 2013. There followed: GLASSHOUSE and HOPELESSLY DEVOTED, in 2014.

WASTED concerns itself with three young (twenties?) friends, Ted (David Harrison), Charlotte (Eliza Scott) and Danny (Jack Crumlin) meeting to memorialise the early death of Tony, one of the old gang. Using Direct Choral kinda poetry rap (with microphones), interspersed with acted vignettes of monologues and scenes between each other, we meet them in parks, raves and the cafes of South London, as they struggle with the meaning and worth of their life choices, as real adulthood responsibilities and ageing stares them in the face, while all the time getting wasted with the old euphoria of drugs and alcohol. Wasted, wasting and, maybe, will be a waste.

The language used by Kate Tempest reveals astute and crisp observations of the circumstances from these character’s journey through life, with a growing self-conscious awareness of what the future is steadfastly, inexorably, will, is, demanding of them, with the vital energy of the here-and-now, of a generation disillusioned by the mores of the world they have inherited.

Backed by a throbbing Sound Design by Tegan Nicholls, and a simple Set Design by Tyler Ray Hawkins, enhanced immeasurably by a virtuosic Lighting Design of the ‘Rave’ kind, by Nick Fry, this performance can whisk one away to a place of awe and a necessary contemplation of the WHO AM I? WHERE AM I? WHAT AM I DOING? – despite its obvious rough ‘budgetary’ edges.

The performance are tight and focused. David Harrison, as the more aware (straighter) suited, survivor of their times, Ted, grows stronger and stronger throughout the time he shares with us to become almost incandescent with a fully possessed ownership of Ted – he is, nearly, totally, amazing. Jack Crumlin has all the observational quirks of this loser musician swamped in the drug escape of his life style/choices and handles the text with clarity and an actorly identification – not quite all the way lost in his man. Too, Eliza Scott knows of whom she does speaks – that for Charlotte real life, work, responsibility is challenging – although, I wished that she, technically, was just a little more energetic and pacy in her thought processes and slam-poetry delivery. (I did see this production at its one and only preview, not its Opening Night).

Elsie Edgerton-Till, the Director, has her ‘hands’ firmly on the wheel of this play and has drawn from all the artists involved a devoted love for what they are doing for us, with a demonstrable need to serve the author, Kate Tempest, respectfully and well.

I could not help but remember, whilst sitting in the Old Factory Theatre, the poet/playwright/actor of a slightly earlier time: Steven Berkoff, and his street poems in quasi Elizabethan/Jacobean verse from the ‘toughs’ of the London of the late ’70’s, early ’80’s: EAST (1975), GREEK (1980), DECADENCE (1981) and WEST (1983).

I, also, recalled that Omar Musa, our own Slam Poet/Novelist, has just released his latest book of Poetry: MILLEFIORI, which Kate Tempest has reviewed: “Omar Musa writes hard, beautiful poems about things that are true.” The by-lne for this new book tells us: “We know the world is a horror story but its also got love notes in the margin”.

WASTED is an energetic production worth catching by all, but speaking, especially, to Ms Tempest’s generation (she is 32).