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GALWAY THEATRE FESTIVAL: Wasted – Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway

Writer: Kate Tempest

Director: Mairéad Folan

Reviewer: Paige Louter

Wasted is presented by No Ropes Theatre as part of the Made in Galway strand of works in progress showings. The text is written by poet, spoken word artist, author, and playwright Kate Tempest, and is actually a finished product: the “in progress” portion of the showing is the company’s experimentation with cinematic surround-sound voiceovers, which replace a more traditional staging of the play’s poetic chorus interludes.

Exploring the auditory possibilities of Tempest’s work is a strong choice: the text of the interludes is striking and clear, and in a dark theatre, it’s easy to focus on the voices and the words. The current venue presents certain technical challenges, which sound designer Bryan Rabbitte acknowledged in the show’s talkback, such as balancing the speaker levels so that one audience member isn’t deafened to give another audience member the perfect sound mix. It would be interesting for the company to explore in-the-round staging in the future, or to experiment with speakers in unexpected places in the space.

The bulk of the showing, after the introductory surround-sound experience, is made up of three friends at a rave, all wasted on various drugs, and all trying to find some kind of meaning in or escape from their mundane lives. This section is well acted and gorgeously lit by lighting designer Matt Burke, but it’s hard to know how to feel about the characters when the context of the rest of the play isn’t present. Charlotte (Deirdre Bhreatnach) gets a nice moment near the end of the presented material when she states almost grimly that she’s trying to change too, while her scene partner and would-be-lover Danny (Adrian Lavelle) spins wild tales about his plans for self-improvement. Without knowing the rest of the story, however, it is hard to evaluate the pacing or the emotional arc of what is shown. There are moments of hope, but what is presented here is a mostly bleak portrayal of characters who may never break free of their stagnant lives.

This showing of Wasted provides an intriguing glimpse of what No Ropes Theatre could accomplish with a full production. The use of sound to create an immersive experience is an interesting line of inquiry, and it will be worth seeing how they might push this further, and what other techniques they might use to create a compelling experience in a finished show.

Work in Progress showing only on 6 May 2016 | Image: courtesy of Galway Theatre Festival.

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