WASTED! is a contemporary adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as seen through the eyes of writer/director Darren Raymond and the Intermission Theatre Company who do laudable work with young people from the local community.
J.Caesar transfers from Harvey Nicks to (deadly) rival school Harrods High in an unnamed rough London borough. The personable Caesar wants to be a man of the people and thus throws himself into life at his new school. Living in the shadow of his military hero father, he longs to make his own mark on the world. At first, Caesar’s only ally is his childhood friend Brutus but he soon overcomes the reservations of most of his new classmates with his diplomatic manner and eagerness to get everyone on his side. The problem is J has a hard time understanding that he can’t please all the people all of the time and resentments run far deeper than he realises.
Raymond’s version of the tale of the doomed, ambitious young emperor is alive with 2009 street colloquialisms, interspersed with the original text. He does justice to the arc of the narrative without neglecting the context in which it is set. For instance, there’s a great scene in which Caesar’s teacher, Miss Portia (Liz Garland) is having problems, as usual, calming down her unruly class after they embark on an impromptu debate about the causes of their bad behaviour. Whilst some characters predictably blame their background others wish to challenge the validity of these perceptions. Such meaty topics are discussed further in the insightful post-show documentary.
Raymond uses the tight space on stage extremely well, exemplified by the innovative way of moving from one scene to the next as the cast re-enact the gaggle of a noisy classroom whilst rearranging the set.
The greatest delight is the high quality acting on display. Tashan Nicholas shows sparks of dramatic promise as the impressionable and ultimately treacherous Brutus. Bamshad Abedi-Amin as Caesar and Hoda Bentahur as his mortal enemy Kassie, do a highly commendable job. The members of the ‘Wasted’ cast have great chemistry. Apart from the odd trouble projecting some of the dialogue clearly enough for the audience to hear, they are not overwhelmed by the gravity of the piece, even managing to add some youthful zest. ‘Wasted’ is a thriving, powerful take on the Bard, replete with superb performances by those who are almost certain to be some of tomorrow’s theatrical stars.
Wasted is at Intermission Theatre until Sat 12 Dec. Info and bookings