Brand New Ancients

Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest and Battersea Arts Centre

Traverse Theatre

From 20 August 2013 to 25 August 2013

Rating: ****

Review by David Chadderton

Rapper and poet Kate Tempest calls into the Traverse for the last week of the Fringe with her play-length performance poem Brand New Ancients, produced in association with Battersea Arts Centre.

The piece begins by talking about how the ancient stories are about the activities of the gods, whereas the stories of today to pass on to the future, when we are ancient history, may have ordinary people as their heroes while still having the status of myth.

Tempest weaves together the stories, with references to gods and myths, of various characters from two families while standing in front of a live band arranged on different levels around the stage. The atmospheric soundtrack backs much of her storytelling and breaks into instrumental pieces between sections of the story, plus some sections are delivered as more conventional rap.

Tempest is a charismatic solo performer who begins by chatting to her audience in an almost apologetic way to form an informal relationship with them. Her delivery is clear and interesting throughout, although she does have a few stereotypical rap gestures sometimes, such as pacing round with her hand mic with eyes on the floor instead of on the audience.

She has a good ear for dialogue and eye for characters and situations and is able to make everyday people come across as mythical and poetic. The soundscape adds well the effect most of the time, making a really interesting piece.

It will be very interesting to see what new work this young writer-performer, still only 26, will produce in the future.