REVIEW: The Political History of Smack and Crack

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

SHOW:  The Political History of Smack and Crack

VENUE:  26 Roundabout @ Summerhall

TIME: 1730

DATES:   Until 26th Aug (Not 21st)

A searingly honest and revealing love story which highlights how deliberate social policy let down and condemned working class communities in Britain in the 1980’s and beyond…….

This is the story of Mandy and Neil, their lives in Manchester and the harshness of an addicted existence.   The reflective nature of their narrative sits starkly with the reality their environment and the need to escape.  Neil and Mandy react to each other and their circumstances, trying to figure a way through and looking after each other when it seems no one else will.  Superbly crafted by Ed Edwards and drawing on personal experience, The Political History of Smack and Crack examines the impact of national and international government policy on lives and communities in 80’s/90’s Britain.   

Eve Steele (Mandy) and Neil Bell (Neil) perform gracefully together, presenting characters with depth and soul.    Their representations of perpetual recovery and relapse,  of hoping for the best for each other, rather than themselves brings pathos to the play.  They are not without moments of selfishness but this is punctured with a dark humour in even the most challenging of circumstances.   Both actors manage the transitions between drama and third party description in character and this technique is wonderfully handled, exposing a level of self awareness, leading to political awakening that would be hard to connect with in a traditional dramatic format.  

Ed Edwards has written fantastically detailed play which uses the personal histories of two people to illustrate an intensely political point about how governments action and inaction impact on an individual level.   One of the most endearing aspects is the way in which each character remembers parts of their own story and is then challenged or corrected by the other.   This technique creates an atmosphere of reminiscence which ensures the audience is able to suspend judgement on two people dealing with addiction and the things they do to get by.   They are not justifying their chequered pasts, merely re-visiting them.   

There is something Godot-esque about the back and forth between Neil and Mandy.  There are echoes of Beckett in the hopelessness of some of the exchanges and bright points of light and hope in others.   This is a play which re-examines what we may think we know of drug addiction and challenges you to question if we should blame the choices made by individuals who are part of a failing state or be harder on the state that failed them.  Under Cressida Brown’s direction, this is an outstanding example of superbly written and wonderfully performed theatre with a social conscience.         

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *