Review: Wasted (Evolution Festival, Lyric Hammersmith)

A new play written by Chanel Fernandes, Wasted is set in a student flat and is a deliciously black revenge tale concerning two young women Amber and Bella (Fernandes and co-creator Kane Feagan) and a missing young man.

When Amber starts to embrace the student lifestyle, drinking a little, going partying, and wearing more revealing clothes, she sets herself up to be judged by a society where the odds on being believed when raped or sexually assaulted are miniscule.

As a woman of colour, she feels acutely an outsider – even the interviews we see with a shadowy (male) police interrogator after the disappearance of the upstairs neighbour, Jacob, are casually racist.

Production photo for Wasted

Wasted highlights how even other women can disbelieve accounts of assault or rationalise them as the victim’s ‘fault’. This play empowers women in many ways by following their story over a nine-month period without a linear tineline.

It’s an effective approach, and under Emily Ling Williams’s direction and Sonya Smullen’s design, we feel engrossed in the setting of open plan living space, screens, and projections.

Wasted raises many emotions at the disparity of views on the sexual behaviour of young people – stud vs slut has stood through the years and still has institutional currency.

Production photo for Wasted

Now in their second year of Springboard (a scheme for 18-25 year olds in West London with no formal drama training), Fernandes and Feagan, together with Wasted‘s supporting actors James Douglas-Quarcoopome and Wilf Walsworth all appear here following last year’s Lysistrata.

Fernandes received the Bill Cashmore Award in 2022, enabling Wasted to build from a ten-minute scratch performance to this accomplished full production.

Wasted played 21-24 Mar at the Lyric Hammersmith Studio. For more on the Evolution Festival, Springboard or Young Lyric visit the theatre website.


Photo credit: Zec Luhana