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Brand New Ancients (Edinburgh Fringe)

Poet and rapper Kate Tempest tells an everyday epic over a live musical score at the Traverse

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Kate Tempest is a rapper, poet, playwright and performer. Here she performs Brand New Ancients, which is one of the most astonishing pieces of work that I've ever encountered.

Wearing a t-shirt, jeans and a pair of white trainers, Tempest nervously shuffles onto stage and says gently to the packed auditorium, "Nice one for coming." Her introduction is idiosyncratic, endearing and refreshingly honest. It's Tempest's attitude and personality that makes this piece so powerful. Before she starts, she assures us that we should "feel comfortable in [her] company", and tells us how the piece began as a poem she performed at Summerhall (another Fringe venue) last year.

After giving a brief background, she begins her performance; an hour-long story of two modern families, which she tells through effortlessly weaving spoken word, poetry, rap and storytelling. She speaks to us all as if directly; the audience are utterly captivated. Behind her sits an incredible live four-piece band; tuba, violin, cello and percussion provide a live score which runs underneath everything, heightening the atmosphere, punctuating the verses and blending the piece into one flowing experience.

Tempest deserves to be recognised as one of the key players in the future development of spoken word and live theatre. Brand New Ancients is beautiful, and a highlight of this year's festival.

- Chris Snow