Southwark Playhouse, London – until 6 October 2018
With a cast of just four, Wasted tells the story of the Brontë siblings and their journeys to success, and questions (to an extent) what makes a legacy and how fulfillment is achieved. Whilst there are some catchy songs and the cast does a good job conveying the struggles o18th-century women, Wasted is drawn out and somewhat uninformative.
The entire show has a tonne of potential and with tweaks could certainly be a coherent, enjoyable show. However, in its current state, it feels somewhat self indulgent and the basic story (the girls struggle, eventually get published but feel they have Wasted their lives) is stretched unnecessarily to fill almost three hours.
The cast is helmed by Natasha Barnes who has made a triumphant return to the stage after giving birth to a beautiful baby last year. Working with Christopher Ash’s demanding score, Barnes leads the show with faultless vocals and outstanding commitment to the level-headed, dreamer Charlotte Brontë.
As her brother who aims to be famous, Matthew Jacobs Morgan is suitably humourous but troubled. As her sisters, Emily and Anne, Siobhan Athwal and Molly Lynch give strong performances although at times it is hard to understand what is being said. This may be due to mics but does mean that it takes real attention to keep up with the story.
Another issue is the amount of repetition. The first act especially feels like we hear the same thing over and over again; after the first 10 minutes it is clear the girls “need to work” but we are told several more times which instead of reinforcing something important, feels unnecessary and adds to the length of the show dramatically.
Wasted could easily have been performed as two separate shows. Both act one and act two have good starting and finishing points which would make for solid 90 minute straight-through shows but together just felt too much.
Despite it’s flaws, it is wonderful to see such an experimental, new, British musical and the cast do an outstanding job of bringing a mischievous, fresh view of the Brontës.