★★★★★ review from The Stage
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan

Yes, yes, yes. The Paines Plough Roundabout’s programme this year is exceptional, but there’s nothing better there – maybe nothing better at the whole festival – than Ed Edwards’ The Political History of Smack and Crack, a riotously entertaining and deeply moving drama-cum-documentary exploring the history of heroin use in Manchester.

Partly using his own experiences with drugs in the early 1990s, Edwards has crafted a two-hander of sensitivity and scope that’s thoroughly rooted in place and time: Manchester in the 1980s, with Thatcher in power and the number of working-class junkies rapidly rising as a result of her government’s policy.

Two Mancunians – Mandy and Neil – narrate their own intertwining stories of love and addiction on the streets of Manchester, jumping back and forth in time and splicing in lessons about the history of heroin throughout.

It’s stylishly done, burning with a broad, Northern humour and a galvanising anti-Tory bite. It’s energetic, too. Effervescent almost. Think Trainspotting, relocated 200 miles south and injected with a bitter dose of politics.

To cap it all, Cressida Brown’s production has two stonking performances from Neil Bell and Eve Steele. Bell is particularly good, with his Rhys Ifans shambliness and Noel Gallagher whine. Wonderful stuff.

I ★★★★ The Guardian I
I ★★★★ Ed fest Mag I
I ★★★★ Fest mag I

Mervyn Stutter's Pick of the Fringe
I ★★★★ The List I
I ★★★★ Whatsonstage I

I And even the Spectator thought it was “wonderful” I

We are delighted to annonce that Smack and Crack has won the Lustrum Award for Greatest Festival Moments, as awarded by Summerhall for the venue’s Greatest Moments.

★★★★★ The Stage
★★★★★ EdFringe
★★★★★ The 730 Review‘
★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★ The Scotsman
★★★★ Financial Times
★★★★ Whats On Stage
★★★★ The Independent
★★★★ The List
★★★★ Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
★★★★ Fest Magazine


  " A terrific honest, funny, moving firecracker of a play" Roy Williams, OBE  


A co-production between Most Wanted and Offstage Theatre in association with W14 Productions and Alastair Michael, co-commissioned by Soho Theatre.

1 Nov - 17th Nov 2018, The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, Manchester

BUY TICKETS: I https://thelowry.com/whats-on I

3 – 26 August 2018, Paines Plough's Roundabout @ Summerhall, Edinburgh Festival

BUY TICKETS: I http://festival18.summerhall.co.uk/ I

3 – 22 September 2018, Soho Theatre in London

BUY TICKETS: I https://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/#theatre I

November 2018, (precise dates TBA), The Mustard Tree refuge in Manchester

We are also working with Synergy Theatre Project who work towards rehabilitation with offenders and ex-offenders to bring performances to prisons in Manchester and London

“The history of England jumps off its axis. 2am, 8th July, 1981, 20 cities across England burn."

The night of the Manchester uprising. That night changed everything. That night two kids locked eyes. Mandy and Neil. Years later they meet again, but revolution is not in the air. All that was crushed by Thatcher. Or by a heroin epidemic. This is an epic love song to a lost generation.

Drawing from his own personal experience, Ed Edwards' script crackles with anger, humour and authenticity about the road to recovery

In November, The Political History of Smack and Crack will transfer to a homeless refuge in Manchester. The city will be playing host to the inaugural International Arts and Homelessness Summit and Festival (curated by With One Voice), bringing together policy makers, artistic leaders and homeless delegates from around the world. As part of the Festival, this authentic and urgent play will open at the Mustard Tree in conjunction with outreach workshops, a local refuge for people trapped by homelessness, dependency and poverty.


Director: Cressida Brown

Lighting Designer: Richard Williamson

Sound Designer: Jon McLeod

Movement Director: Kate Sagovsky

Design Consultant: Esteniah Williams

Eve Steele
Nick Bell

MOST WANTED I : https://www.mostwantedshows.com/ I

W14 PRODUCTIONS: I https://w14productions.squarespace.com/shows/#/jonathan-miller/ I

Thank you to our funders:

The Fidelio Charitable Trust