Paul T Davies reviews The Political History Of Smack and Crack now playing at Roundabout at Summerhall at Edinburgh Fringe
Meet Neil and Mandy, heroin addicts. They are going to take you on a journey through their world of addiction, but also fill you in on the history of heroin on the streets of Britain. It’s that history, that many of us won’t know about, that packs a punch. Beginning with the first use of heroin in 1875 in Connecticut in medical procedure, writer Ed Edwards opens our eyes when dealing with the Thatcher years, when Neil and Mandy were children. Before 1981, you couldn’t buy heroin on the streets of Manchester. Then came the riots in twenty UK cities, co-inciding with Thatcher’s support of right wing rebel groups in Afghanistan. To fund these groups, heroin was the trade, and it flooded the streets of Britain. The statistics are shocking, the opium of the people became opium.
This history and the legacy is told through a very human story of addiction. Performers Eve Steele and Neil Bell are excellent, with a script ringing with authenticity and personal experience. The friendship between the two is beautifully portrayed, and you care what happens to them. The struggle to get clean and stay clean is heartbreaking in it’s truthful portrayal.
It’s shot through with earthy humour and you leave thinking about the history in a different way. Highly recommended.