Edinburgh Fringe 2015
‘Tequila fights, lost friends and sick in the toilets’... Oli and Emma wake up after a night out. Neither can remember exactly what happened. Events quickly spiral out of control as the past is constructed in the hazy aftermath of what could have happened. No Prophet Theatre and Kat Woods, writer and director of EdFringe 2014 triumph Belfast Boy, have created a thought-provoking piece of theatre that investigates the repercussions of a one night stand.
Serena Jennings and Will Merrick are accomplished actors who offer a nuanced and engaging performance. Rapidly switching between events and characters they deliver punchy dialogue with intelligence and precision. The duo start the play with an intense energy that carries throughout. They support each other in an array of different roles, and cleverly shift from situations of gravity to moments of humour and lightness. Merrick is brilliantly convincing as Emma’s (Serena Jennings) best friend Kate, gently edging the plot forward as she begins to suggest the implications of what might have happened. Jennings is equally impressive in the diverse number of characters she manages to portray. It is a pleasure to watch, and they are so convincing that I find myself trying to remember how many actors were actually in the show! (definitely two)!
The script is well written and full of sharp dialogue. Kat Woods is clearly a skilled writer who is capable of visualizing text and transforming it into something for the stage. There are some interesting moments of staging – towards the beginning of the piece the audience is ushered onto the stage and left to stand as the drama unfolds around them. A brilliant way to start the show which has the audience swapping grins and standing on tiptoes to get a better view of the actors as they hurtle around the theatre.
The seriousness of the issue with which Woods has decided to engage is not to be undermined. The play gives rise to a number of questions that are important to address and the audience leave talkative and thoughtful – What constitutes as consent? How do drugs and alcohol complicate sexual encounters? To what extent are incidents constructed after they occur? How do institutional structures interfere in this process? At times I felt the narrative was slightly predictable. However, this is difficult to fault as the play is founded in real life events. To compensate, I would like to have seen more insight into the characters and further exploration of the structures through which this drama takes place (i.e. police, justice system, family). There is potential for development in this respect and the piece might also improve by reworking some aspects of dramaturgy. For example, some scene/character transitions could be a bit smoother (in one transition Jennings has to rush from being a distraught mother, to police officer, back to mother in about 2 seconds) and there are two blackout montages that might be developed so as not to disrupt the pace of the performance. Some small changes of this kind might free the actors to enjoy the dialogue and utilize their talents even further. But I am more than happy to recommend you see Wasted.