Edinburgh Preview: Tobacco Road at Pleasance Courtyard (Upstairs)

Tobacco Road, Incognito Theatre Company - (courtesy of Tim Hall Photography)
Tobacco Road, Incognito Theatre Company - (courtesy of Tim Hall Photography)

Incognito Theatre Company, winners of the Les Enfants Terribles’ 2018 Greenwich Partnership Award, return to the Edinburgh Fringe with their explosive physical style to tell the story of five resourceful young men and women attempting to carve out a place for themselves in the murky underworld of 1920s London. In the wake of the Great War, can they find the fame and wealth they crave or will their desperate need to belong lead to disastrous consequences?

Tobacco Road is a unique gangster story, framed in the moody back streets of London.  Every character is in some way based on a real person or people. Elsie and Freda are inspired by the ruthless female gang, Alice Diamond and her followers. Tommy Carlisle is based on the bareknuckle boxers of Lambeth, Alfie on the thousands of young men left deeply tormented by the effects of World War I, whilst the ambitious Felix is inspired by the bloodthirsty young men who were driven to succeed by their unerring determination.

Incognito seek to explore the stories that have gone untold in many history books, from the day-to-day struggle of being a female gangster in a male-dominated world to the complex and impossible standards of masculinity. Tobacco Road is a magnified examination of the real people who had to forge a life for themselves in a world that had ignored them.

By shining a light on gang activity, this exciting production investigates how young people find themselves embroiled in gang culture and why people felt they had no other option but to go into crime.

Incognito have created a beautifully cinematic style of performance, producing a whole world on stage that could live and breathe outside the play. Where does history end and fiction begin in Tobacco Road?

Director Roberta Zuric comments, “Tobacco Road is a new, exciting take on an age-old rags to riches story. With current youth unemployment levels and the disparity in social class upbringing, it’s an important time to open up the discussion of how, and if, we as a society are paving the way for future generations. Sadly, the glass ceilings of social classes remain oppressive and debilitating to a huge portion of the UK’s young people. Our story is about what happens when those who are marginalised have had enough and decide to take ownership of their own lives and legacies.”

Tobacco Road is at Pleasance Courtyard (Upstairs).

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