The Southwark Playhouse is an intimate fringe theatre in London that hosts a huge amount of really extraordinary off West End hits and Wasted the Musical is no exception. The rock documentary musical of the Brontë sisters is a defiant and unashamedly bold production that quite literally tears up the rule book.
Telling the story of their literary legacy from birth to death, this musical shines a light on the three Brontë sisters and their determination for success in a bleak world. Wearing 19thcentury dresses on a simple square stage with long wired microphones and a few suitcases, it’s beauty is its raw simplicity. It is all about the sisters as we get a glimpse into what drove them.
It’s the dynamic between the three sisters and their brother Branwell that makes the production so strong and their contrast in character creates a captivating chemistry. Natasha Barnes is exceptional as the grounded older sister Charlotte. Riddled with insecurities, she is desperate to prove herself as a writer. Barnes’ characterisation is encapsulating and her stellar vocals are worth the ticket price alone. Siobhan Athwal shines as tortured young Emily. She portrays the role with real conviction and integrity, as her quirky physicality is unsettling, creating a seriously intriguing character. Molly Lynch brings real humour in her sweet depiction of Anne, the way she transitions from stunning operatic vocals to an emotionally charged rock tone is mesmerising.
Rebellious Brontë brother Branwell played by Matthew Jacobs Morgan is the only male character to grace the stage. Performing the charm of the character superbly, it’s brilliant to watch the three sisters fight back as he gets up on his high horse but soon falls crumbling to the ground.
The music is quite simply revolutionary. Chris Ash and Carl Miller have created a score that takes musical theatre to a whole new level and combines the Brontë’s passion, confidence and determination into a soundtrack that women (and men) will be blasting out for years to come. It’s empowering, emotional, powerful and entirely thrilling. A particular highlight is (Extra)ordinary Women,a powerhouse number sung by Natasha Barnes.
The Brontë family didn’t live the most exciting life, but this production makes their world feel electric. Spanning the entirety of the sister’s lives, we dig deep into their emotions and delve into the detail of each character. The writing is slick and razor sharp, not to mention, “Fuck off, I’m writing Jane Eyre,” is probably the most iconic line in theatre to date.
This edgy, haunting and rebellious rock musical is not only a triumph, but a flawless representation of three fierce women on stage. Breaking a multitude of boundaries, if this is where musical theatre is headed, then the future is looking pretty damn good.
On at the Southwark Playhouse until the 6th of October, tickets and information can be found here.