Benet Catty Productions

Cigarettes and Chocolate - Edinburgh 2011

Aug 17, 2011

Whatsonstage ****

Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella’s delicate 1988 radio play gets a niftily directed, neatly acted stage outing from Reading University.

Gemma has stopped speaking. Her anxious husband Rob and various of her friends all try to talk to her, including the friend who’s in love with her and another who’s been having an affair with the husband.

None get a response and yet by talking to her (or about her) they all find themselves learning something about themselves. This is a therapy play in all but name.

Gemma tells us in her final monologue (compellingly played by Louisa Harris) that people are always “saying so much to say nothing”, that silence now has a comfort to it that cigarettes and chocolate previously had for her.

It’s a gem of a play and Dan Whateley and Joanna Lucas’ fluid production engagingly gives the sense of a world rolling past Gemma but somehow not quite touching her. Harris’ eyes, which raise once (and thrillingly) in the course of her long silence, do all the work. “You have the eyes” her friend tells her. She really does.

A fascinating play, and a poignant reminder of the great writer we lost.

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