Have you ever felt like you were wasting time, or even your life? It might be a comfort to know that some of the most famous people in history felt the same, the Brontes so the new musical ‘Wasted’ goes, were some of them.
There is no riper territory for a new musical than an uphill struggle and the Bronte siblings had one! The girls (Emily’s, Charlotte and lesser known Ann) face the challenges of being a woman in the 19th century on top of being rurally isolated, without anything but basic education, without a mother and poor. Their brother Branwell has further opportunities (Latin tuition, his own studio) but is thrown from the heights of expectation into crippling self doubt. From doubt into drug addition, and with that into obscurity. The girls find the fame Branwell thought was meant for him, but they all handle it differently. It’s a truly heartfelt historical tale, told with punch.
It’s a truly heartfelt historical tale, told with punch.
The beauty of this new musical goes well beyond its subject matter, each performance is brazen and unique and captures the hunger of each sibling in the talents of each vocalist. Charlotte is matriarchal and fierce, Emily is dark and quirky and Ann is charming, and a little naive.
Their voices and their verses are shot through with electric guitars and some frantic beats (the 50/50 split in the band’s genders is noted and welcomed) mics are handheld at all times and entwine their owners. It’s part rock opera, part of theatre, part musical.
It’s part rock opera, part of theatre, part musical.
It’s graduated well from it’s Edinburgh roots into the Large Southwark Playhouse Space. Under Adam Lenson’s direction, the girls are literally climbing the walls to escape their humble Yorkshire beginnings.
As with a large percentage of new musicals, there are snags, but these can be ironed out so that it can see some more (well deserved) time under the spotlight. There is definitely room to trim and/or cut some songs. ‘Goth’, an Emily solo in the second act, feels almost pantomimic, pushing Emily’s strangeness a little too far.
‘Wasted’ is about struggle “Write a word, then a book…” But also about enduring that struggle and coming into a legacy. It’s about making the most of our time, and striking that seemingly impossible balance between living and making art, something we could all use today to make sure we don’t leave our own lives don’t feel ‘wasted’.
6 SEPT – 6 OCT, Southwark Playhouse.