The Political History of Smack and Crack -courtesy of Matt Tullett, Photography Dept
The Political History of Smack and Crack -courtesy of Matt Tullett, Photography Dept

The Political History of Smack and Crack is an angry, funny love-song to a lost generation annihilated by the heroin epidemic of Thatcher’s years, leaping from the 1981 riots to present day survival on the streets of Manchester.

This arresting first production from writer Ed Edwards, inspired by his own experience and directed by Cressida Brown, crackles with anger, humour and authenticity about the road to recovery. This urgent two-hander traces a pair of star-crossed lovers from the epicentre of the working class riots in 1981 on Moss Side – an uprising which spread to London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and many more – to their eventual struggles on the streets of Manchester.

The Political History of Smack and Crack is based on Edwards’ experiences of rehab, narcotics dependency, and three and a half years in jail in the early 1990s. In the present time of unprecedented political uncertainty and deepening inequality, Edwards͛ authentic voice allows us to consider past acts of rebellion against the status quo. Funny and relevant the play is also bold in terms of its form.  Written mainly in the third person, the play’s two neutral narrators seamlessly blend into the two leading protagonists.

Edwards comments, “Most plays I’ve seen about heroin show the horrors and the degradation of the experience from the personal perspective as if hard drugs have just fallen from the sky. We see some smackhead heading for the bottom and then getting better – again as if by magic. I wanted to show two things differently. Firstly, that the smack – and in its wake crack – didn’t appear from nowhere: they appeared at a particular time for a particular reason and this reason is political.

Secondly, I wanted to deal with addicts in recovery – mainly because most of the addicts I know are in recovery – and I wanted to show the madness that goes along with stopping using drugs. I also wanted to depict a fucked-up relationship because this is the only type of relationships I know. I want to make people laugh and make people cry.”

Later this year, The Political History of Smack and Crack will transfer to the city from which it was born, Manchester. This authentic and urgent play will open at the Mustard Tree – a local refuge providing care for people trapped by homelessness, dependency and poverty since 1994.

The Political History of Smack and Crack is at Paines Plough’s ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall.

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