Brand New Ancients

© John Hunter

Kate Tempest may call herself a poet, but this is nothing like any poetry recital you could imagine.

There’s a restless earnestness to her voice, as she relays the stories of two boys from the same area with very different destinies. As they grow up in urban London, one is given love, the other indifference and eventually their lives crash together in a violent and bloody climax that is both heart-breaking and painfully familiar.

‘Brand New Ancients’ is a mixture of play, storytelling, dramatic poem and music gig. The 27-year-old Tempest stands at the front, eyes shut, her whole body often writhing with intensity, casually clad in jeans and a T-shirt while behind her, a band accompanies the piece with a churning blend of drum ’n’ bass beats and jazz riffs.

Her poetry is fresh and startling. Perceptive, funny lines lift the piece (‘He had a smile like a diamond in the sewer’), prompting your own imagination to work almost as hard as Tempest herself does.

Occasionally she steps away from the mic to let the musicians take over and there are moments where she raps and sings, creating a steadily building atmosphere. It’s a goose-bump inducing evening and Tempest takes each member of the audience with her through every second of her tale.

By Daisy Bowie-Sell

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