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.
You may also want to watch:
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 'Picture of health': Mum's tribute to son who died of sudden cardiac arrest
- 2 Police investigate reported rape of teenager
- 3 Tennis coach 'distraught' at losing Belsize role amid club row
- 4 London Zoo's aviary unwrapped to create new monkey home
- 5 Watchdog upholds 27 complaints over 'systemic' failures by Haringey Council
- 6 Clapped in the street - and assaulted: Staff call for behaviour change in A&E
- 7 E-scooter rider arrested over suspected drug dealing
- 8 The Vagina Museum searches for new home as Camden Market leases end
- 9 Piers Plowright: 'An extraordinary force, devoted to Hampstead'
- 10 'Time for banks to share a Crouch End branch'
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.