Curtain Descends on Smoke Rings
12th May 2013
After months of writing and weeks of rehearsals, Smoke Rings, the play co-authored by third-year playwrights at the University of Gloucestershire, has run to full houses and critical acclaim. After every show sold out, an additional matinee performance was added on Saturday afternoon, and every audience enjoyed a play that was full of politics, comedy, suspense, and exuberance. As the Gloucestershire Echo wrote in the days before the opening night, ‘The story sweeps across time, giving a fictional account of the history of the smoking industry, with scenes depicting Columbus bringing tobacco to the UK and modern sections showing horseracing punters having a cigarette at Cheltenham Racecourse.’ Reviewing the show in the same paper on Friday, Emma Allsebrook wrote, ‘Directed by Bill Cronshaw [Dreamshed Theatre], the play takes you on an unforgettable journey, telling you the untold story of the tobacco industry in Gloucestershire…. Commissioned as part of a final year creative writing degree at the county’s university, the collaboration is certainly a success. [The] writing is interrogative and more often than not, humorous.’ Commenting on the brilliant performances by Yvie Magee, Melissa McCarthy, Alex Guilford, and John Martin Stevens, she added ‘The story sweeps across generations, interpreted by four talented actors who interchange between characters faultlessly…. Whilst the play is neither anti-smoking nor pro tobacco, this black comedy is controversial. But in all the right ways.’
Thanks and kudos to all fifteen writers – and, of course, to lecturer Lucy Tyler who oversaw the whole project. Smoke Rings was a treat for everyone lucky enough to see it, and Saturday night won’t be the last we hear of the show; there are plans to take it on tour, and the team are preparing suitably adapted versions to take to schools and colleges. For more information about this, please contact Dreamshed Theatre at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, here are some photos taken during the rehearsal process (thanks to Emma Potter for the pics!).