Like Blood from a Cheap Cigar

Genevieve Joy and Joseph Reitman

Genevieve Joy

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

From 04 August 2017 to 26 August 2017

Rating: ***

Review by Keith Mckenna

Margo (Genevieve Joy) and George (Joseph Reitman) are still clearly stuck on each other in this snappy, dialogue-driven play from America.

It seems that Margo has been sitting in her car outside George’s place and, when George arrives at her apartment to talk about this, he finds it hard to drag himself away, despite them both saying the relationship is over.

The dialogue rolls along easily and has a humorous slant that raises laughs, but it also has a more serious side. George has a cocaine problem and is consuming enough to explode an elephant.

The short fifty-minute play is divided into two distinct parts, both taking place in Margo’s apartment. The first is set in the present and the second takes us back to the night they met.

The contrast in George is startling. The once neat, reflective and healthy looking individual has later become manic, dishevelled, and clearly unwell.

The play is performed by two fine actors who give us a believable relationship.

However the show has flaws. Its central storyline of a good man brought down by drugs is a very overused and tired one.

Of course the storyline is still used in film so it can grab an audience and it is also a favourite line with conservative politicians, who used it particularly during Reagan’s “War on Drugs” to help herd great numbers of the poor and ethnic minorities into a growing prison complex.

But there is a more serious problem with the play. It explains too little. We don’t get much idea why Margo is stalking George or what is driving George to drugs and the first half ends in a very unclear way.

Check any two audience member’s account of what they think happened at the close of that first half and it is likely to differ. I can’t even imagine what the motivation might be for what I think happened.

I suspect the play was conceived as spiky dialogue around an old storyline and never really moved on from that. It makes entertaining viewing but at the end of the day it is not very satisfying.