Double Bill

Aug 17 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Character-driven

Young critics scheme review
Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens (Venue 121): Tue 11 – Sat 22 Aug 2015

Theatre Alba present a double bill at Duddingston Kirk Manse of Chekhov’s Smoking is Bad for You and Tennessee Williams’ Something Unspoken.

In the darkly comic Smoking is Bad for You, Alan Ireby plays an aging Welshman with an domineering, abusive wife, who is forced to give a lecture on the dangers of smoking.

Alan Ireby in Smoking is Bad for You. Photo: Theatre Alba

Alan Ireby. Photo: Theatre Alba

Something Unspoken portrays the relationship between two women living in the American South. One is a pillar of Atlanta society and prominent member of the Daughters of The Confederacy (Kirsten Maguire). The other is her timid English secretary (Suzanne Dance). But there is a part of their relationship neither of them is willing to confront.

Performing by himself, with no props except a chair, lectern and set of notes, Ireby delivers a commanding and engaging performance in Smoking is Bad for you as the lecturer. The play’s subtle comedy is conveyed by Ireby, who uses verbal tics and twitches to subtly illuminate the viewer to the lecturer’s depressing situation.

The script is also sharp and funny, as Chekhov paints a portrait of a worn-down, broken man seeking just a moment of peace and quiet.

a great pair

Something Unspoken’s two stars are a great pair. Kirsten Maguire portrays an austere, extremely respectable Southern dame, who is frustrated by how her secretary (Suzanne Dance) refuses to acknowledge that there is clearly an element of their relationship beyond employer and employee

The play lives or dies on the chemistry between the two actors, and in this the production lives. The two character feel real and so does their relationship. As with Smoking is Bad for You, the minimalist set design – just a single table with various props and two chairs – ensures that the production has to rely on the strength of the performances to engage the audience, and this is the area in which it succeeds.

Running time 1 hour 30 mins
Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens (Venue 121), Old Church Lane, EH15 3PX
Tuesday 11 – Saturday 22 August, 2015
Tue-Sat: 4.00pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Theatre Alba website:

Travel details to get to Duddingston Kirk:


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