by Kate Tempest.
Tour to 26 May 2012.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 April at Watford Palace Theatre.
New play’s energy and insight doesn’t waste audience time.
This quick blast from rapper and poet Kate Tempest fills its hour perfectly. As it should, with Paines Plough, Birmingham Rep and the Roundhouse plus two Festivals (National Student and Latitude) involved. It’s the right length for its potential audience, people between later teens and mid-twenties.
Which seems old to the three who’ve reached there. Ed’s stuck in a marriage and a suit, knowing his routine job’s taking him nowhere. Danny mooches dreamily along a different route to the same place, avoiding commitment but wanting Charlotte to give him yet another chance, flopping around casual shift-work while dreaming the next gig will see his band signed by a label.
And Charlotte walks out of her job in a tough school after seeing private school students behaving with the maturity she knows her class will never aspire to.
It’s theatre for young people who don’t go to the theatre, which is why the cast enter nervously saying they’re like that too, and that they can see the audience. There’s every sense of connection.
Dialogue mixes with poetic expression of thoughts, spoken singly or in quick-fire alternation into microphones. The central scene takes the three from casual meetings and discussion of Danny’s hopes and Ed’s depression to a Saturday night warehouse party – the sort, Ed says, where people have adjectives rather than names.
Tempest catches the rhythms and mood of her characters exactly, with precision detail – the men’s morning-after breakfast is uninterrupted by Ed’s mobile as his wife summons him to four hours in IKEA. That, and the fate of Charlotte’s breakaway, which at least ends with a reaffirmation of her work, points to them “regretting the decisions we never had the guts to make”.
Flashing video images behind create a sense of urban rush, while the trio’s daytime meeting-place shows corporate London from the south framed by close-up branches. Among the three high-energy performances Cary Crankson shows particular comic skill in details of facial shifts and small emphases in speech. Add Kwake Bass’s music and the only thing on the downside in James Grieve’s pacy production is the final moralising line.
Ted: Cary Crankson.
Danny: Ashley George.
Charlotte: Lizzy Watts.
Director: James Grieve.
Designer: Cai Dyfan.
Lighting: Angela Anson.
Sound: Tom Gibbons.
Music: Kwake Bass.
Film: Mathy Tremewan, Fran Broadhurst.
Associate director: Stef O’Driscoll.