REVIEW: Last Gasp: The Ashtray Project Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Two star rating On paper, this collaborative show inspired by the smoking ban interested me – a collection of stories examining smoking in our society, written from an ashtray s perspective. And wi
Last Gasp: The Ashtray Project
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Two star rating
On paper, this collaborative show inspired by the smoking ban interested me - a collection of stories examining smoking in our society, written from an ashtray's perspective. And with Cancer Research UK involved, this seemed like a project worthy of attention.
The play begins with six 'ashtrays' thrown into a cupboard. Over the course of the evening, they recount episodes from their lives before the smoking ban. There are 18 stories in all, the six actors each playing multiple parts.
Some of the stories were well-written and quite funny but overall these episodes left me cold. Jayne Dickinson's direction was subtle and well-considered and there were some excellent performances, particularly from Amy Tweed and Michael Lindall. But again and again, I found myself wondering why we were hearing from ashtrays at all.
- 1 Hanukkah 2021: Five events in north London tonight
- 2 Hampstead Heath to host first Christmas Fayre
- 3 Warnings of ice across London amid plummeting temperatures
- 4 Burglar posing as police officer 'preyed upon the elderly'
- 5 Possible travel disruptions in north London this week
- 6 CCTV: Man makes ‘sexually explicit comments’ to teen on tube
- 7 Susan Jones obituary: A 'humble' Muswell Hill shop owner of 40 years
- 8 Artist with autism exhibits vibrant London scenes at Lido Cafe
- 9 North London Chorus to perform in Muswell Hill
- 10 Highgate Hill housing plans spark fears over new pub's future
When dealing with human issues, the show is very convincing. But these episodes are dismayingly few and far between. The estranged father and daughter for example, who meet in a pub after many years apart, but cannot resolve their troubles. Or the emotional parting of a lesbian couple at an airport, observed by a well-meaning solo traveller. It is unfortunate that the only stories in a show about ashtrays that catch the attention and register emotionally are the ones that have nothing to do with smoking.
This is the fatal flaw of The Ashtray Project - ashtrays are just not very interesting and no amount of clever staging will change this fact. Raising money for charity is very admirable of course, but next time, a premise with some dramatic potential wouldn't go amiss.