Saturday, 7 April 2012

Wasted by Kate Tempest

As the lights came up the woman next to me hurriedly wiped away her tears.  Her boyfriend hadn’t looked thrilled about being here when they first arrived; she had suggested he wait in the bar during the show but he refused.  He wanted to do this with her, for her.  He was confused by her tears, squeezed her hand and led her as quickly as he could out of the auditorium, away from the cause of her distress.

He reminded me of Ted.  I wondered if she felt like Charlotte.

An initial burst of projected images wordlessly introduced the three characters to us – Charlotte the classroom teacher aching to travel; Ted the office worker, tied, tired and tangled by the endless repetition of colourless days; Danny the arty drop out mate, with low level addictions to a life lived high as opposed to a powder-and-pill-free world that under delivers against what he believes he could be. 

The characters themselves then came out, sheepishly, blinking into the bright lights on the stage, a more crumpled, less refined version of the selves we had seen moments before on the big screen; smaller, less controlled.  They said nothing for a while.  Looked at one another, at us, went to speak, lost their nerve.  Then exploded into rhythmic dialogue, directly, with the audience. 

The piece continued energetically for an hour, a mix of monologues delivered to their friend Tony, and scenes from the 24-hour period as they commemorated the 10th anniversary of his death at 15 by getting wasted, just like they used to.

The audience thus becomes Tony, who in turn becomes an imaginary ‘other’, a confessor and totem for a period in time when the concept of tribe, of belonging, of meaning, was unquestioned and self-confidence inevitable.  Each character takes this moment to measure up their disappointment in the life lived and to contemplate how they might change, to get back on track to their ‘true selves’.

Finding definition and meaning in existence is a fundamental question that we all grapple with, ignore, medicate against and quest to achieve at different moments in our lives.  We have grown up surrounded by the dialogue of choice – political and commercial propaganda tells us anything, everything is possible.  Wasted touches upon the consequences and challenges of such an environment as its’ inhabitants come of age and asks how, given this excess of choice, we intend to live.

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