Thursday 24th November 2022 at The Jack Studio Theatre, London.
Reviewer: Tina Zucco
Wasted is a fast-paced, dynamic play, debuting MICA Theatre with a bang. A show that entertains and touches the audience from beginning to end.
Wasted, written by Kae Tempest and directed by Tony Clarke, sees friends Temi (Seraphina Beh), Danny (Ted Reilly) and Charlotte (Isabella Verrico), on the 10th anniversary of their best mate’s death.
The group is remembering Tony (Ruaridh Mollica), and reviewing the last 10 years of their lives. They’ll soon be 30, and have they achieved what they wanted in life, or should they change something? After all, even the tree planted in Tony’s memory changes four times a year, but them? Did they change at all, or have they been standing still in the same place?
These opening questions are thrown at the audience as soon as lights go up on the stage, in an honest, and impressively snappy beginning, in which all actors acknowledge the audience is watching them, breaking the fourth wall, and wondering, why on earth we would have come to watch them, to listen to their story.
As someone living in London in my 20s I can appreciate the feeling of unimportance the characters feel, and I think Clarke couldn’t have created a cleverer opening.
From the first line, we’re all hooked.
Clarke is not just to praise for the strong opening of the play, as there are lots of other touches of genius in the direction of Wasted. From the funny and lighthearted scenes of a club night, to the heart-wrenching moment of Tony’s death, all directorial decisions enhance an already brilliant script by Kae Tempest.
Tempest was able to merge poetry, spoken word and naturalistic dialogue seamlessly, making for a very entertaining, touching, and most of all, relatable play.
The script fit the four actors like a glove. All the cast had noticeable chemistry and were able to play off each other like a well-oiled machine.
Reilly’s performance of Danny was outstanding, and so real that he even got some reactions from the audience who went through moments of wanting to hug him as well as punch him when he behaved like the immature one of the group.
A great character to oppose Verrico’s Charlotte. She is ready to stand-up for herself this time, for her future. Verrico’s acting is realistic from beginning to end, she makes poetry sound like everyday’s words. Noticeable is Beh’s acting. She has incredible range and her Temi is to thank for most of the belly-laughs the audience let out, as well as all the wake up calls we received. The trio works.
However, it is Mollica’s performance of Tony, ever present and yet never imposing, that feels like the feather keeping the whole show balanced. There is this feeling that nothing we see on stage, from the actors, to the set, is redundant.
By removing even just one piece, the play wouldn’t work, it’s the most beautiful act of balance and ensemble I have ever seen on stage.
Music, lighting, and the set design with the use of musical instruments are as big a star as each of the actors. The creative team composed of Pablo Fernandez Baz (lighting), TJ Roderick (sound design), Rupert Cross (composer), Han Sayles (Lighting assistant) and Joseph Peck (sound designer), under the direction of Toby Clarke and assistant direction of Ariana Xeno, have all created an outstanding show that celebrate Tempest’s writing.
I highly recommend Wasted, running until the 3rd December at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. You can find tickets here.