Wasted, Southwark Playhouse

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by Amy Toledano

Wasted at the Southwark Playhouse is an explosion of feminist energy, a dark and angsty account of the lives of the four most famous Brontë siblings.

More gig-theatre than traditional musical, this show follows an interview-like structure that finds us hearing each of the Brontë daughters answers to the most famous questions about their lives and how they came to be some of the most influential writers in classical literature. The show has a Tim Burton-meets-Spring Awakening vibe, and through an array of huge rock numbers the actors and musicians convey the anguish and passion that these four creatives lived.

Brilliant direction is at work here, with Adam Lenson making full use of this traverse stage. Actors use handheld microphones as their main tool throughout, signifying the characters inner most thoughts, opening themselves up to us and airing their feelings. All props in the show are “gig” related with amps, capos and mic stands representing everything from toy soldiers to Emily Brontë’s trusty pup Keeper. Movement Director Natasha Harrison clearly also had a hand in characterisation, with the tiniest movements being significant to the character’s emotions. This is particularly obvious in the witchy performance from Siobhan Athwal, playing Emily Brontë with such controlled movement and awkward jerkiness that is so deliciously uncomfortable. It really gives a sense of the erratic woman she once was.

All the actors are a force to be reckoned with. The audience feels harrowing emotions from all of the characters, from the powerhouse vocalist that is Natasha Barnes (Charlotte Brontë), to the hilarious heartbreaking comedy chops of Matthew Jacobs Morgan (Branwell Brontë). Molly Lynch (Anne Brontë) gives a heartwarming and ever sweet performance.

The band are a big part of the storytelling, perfectly supporting the cast and providing a backdrop that gives this show the kick-ass sense of rock and roll it needs to tell its story. Special mention must go to drummer and vocalist Nathan Gregory for his spot on performance as the Keeper the Dog.

Hard-hitting, high energy and, at times, incredible beautiful, this show is the story of the Brontës that we know but with a twist that absolutely delivers.

Wasted runs through 6 October.

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