Angst, disillusionment, and Peckham ravesJohannes Hjorth

The theme of youth disillusionment is a popular one, analysed and dissected in innumerable pieces of literature and theatre. ‘Wasted’, the Corpus Playroom’s latest Late Show, offers another interpretation. Performance art intersects with slam poetry in a piece which probes whether there is any hope for the future.

Lucy Moss’s roots in choreography are reflected in her direction. Much of the performance is heavily choreographed in a way which seems meant to feel naturalistic but could, especially during the more metatextual interlude, instead seem incredibly artificial. Her direction in the more naturalistic scenes was stronger, with creative use of the confined Playroom space to depict a variety of sets, including a Peckham rave, a park, a flat and a cafe.

Written by Kate Tempest, 2013 winner of the Ted Hughes Award and acclaimed spoken word artist, Wasted depicts three characters caught in their mid twenties, each directionless and lost in their own ways. Ted is a discontented office worker stuck in a humdrum life of work and girlfriend. Dan is a classic failing creative type, band and all, looking for a trip to stardom but ultimately losing control of everything. Charlotte is a teacher who has lost her passion, driven down by difficult students in a hard school. Their web is well and truly tangled. They gather together on a Friday to mourn their friend, the deceased yet ever present Tony (Mike Hood). All of the cast play all of the characters at different points, the change signified by switching jackets.

The script depicts a realistic modern day London, punctuated by raves, filled with the dispossessed. The characters are ‘proper’ Londoners, who call each other cunts, take lots of drugs and ‘get mashed’ in the same, rough neighbourhood they’ve lived in their entire lives. This was emphasised by the direction, which saw a lot of chain smoking rollies and gesticulating with bottles. This is not to negate the strength of the performances from the actors: Ian Johnston, Jake Morris and Avigail Tlalim should be commended for bringing real moments of emotional depth, especially during their various individual monologues. They portrayed the angst of the characters, the raw pain of the loss of their teenage idealism to the drudgery of real life which isn’t what they expected it to be. Their versatility was especially prominent in their ability to switch characters, both bringing continuity but also something new and striking with each new switch.

‘Youth disillusionment’ is a complicated theme to depict in an hour long play. It was the dynamic between the characters which brought this complex theme into a more authentic reality. Wasted is a play which could have seemed cliched in the wrong hands, but instead the strength of the performances held the entire piece together with confidence.