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I saw this play at the weekend at The Roundhouse London, as part of its current The Last Word – ‘London’s first ever spoken word festival.’

And what a truly magnificent representation of the power and magic and beauty of words Wasted is. The energy, passion and dynamism of the three performers was also hugely impressive.

Written by the so very talented Kate Tempest, I have thought much about the play since, and have read and re-read the text. Wasted is word-dense, each word carefully chosen to create a piece of art that is thought-provoking, moving, sad, disturbing, funny, and all the while gripping and enthralling.

The three characters arrive on stage and address the audience directly. Immediately, one feels involved, drawn into the stories of their lives, a witness to something significant and vital:

“We wish we has some kind of incredible truth to express.”

“We wish we knew the deeper meaning.”

“But we don’t.”

“We don’t have nothing to tell you that you don’t already know…”

They speak of the city, their home, and the despondency that it and living their lives there has fostered:

“Deserted playgrounds, tramps singing on the street, bleeding gums outside the pub, takeaways and car exhausts and bodies till you can’t see bodies.”

“A city where nothing much happens except everything.”

“Where everyone is so entirely involved in their own ‘nothing much’ that they forget about the everything happening elsewhere.”

It was not always so. The trio remember their teen years, when they ‘lived without fear’, then later ‘got wasted in raves and felt Godlike.’ But as the years pass (they are now 25) “Our eyes got dimmer and our dreams got flattened”, and we “forgot what we was living for.”

They mention Tony, both individually and as a group, who, it appears, died 10 years earlier:

“So you’re lucky. Coz if you was still here, you’d have a habit, or depression, or anxiety attacks, or all three…”

Seeking change and epiphanies that don’t happen, all three are drowning in the reality of their current lives. They also realise that they no longer have anything to say to each other, only a shared and ‘wasted’ past – “we spend life retelling life and it’s pointless and boring.”

Many phrases – “All of us, regretting the decisions we never had the guts to make” – resonate and leave much to consider.

I have not yet decided how the play concluded for me. But then, there can be no definitive conclusion or ending. This is a story about life, about the challenges inherent in living it, and about the choices you can make, or choose to ignore.

“…your dreams are more than just something that came before you shook them off, your dreams are worth pursuing…”

“But you’ll never fly until you’re prepared to jump.”

“Your life is much more than getting wasted.”

CQ

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