Adapted by William Harding from Anton Chekhov's monologue, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco
Fortune Cookie Theatre Company
Assembly George Square Studios

Andrew Buckland

Tobacco is a comedy adapted by William Harding from an Anton Chekhov short story, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco.

In this version, directed by Sylvaine Strike for South Africa’s Fortune Cookie Theatre Company, it becomes a vehicle for the clowning and physical theatre skills of Andrew Buckland, supported by Toni Morkel and an amazingly adaptable section of tree trunk.

Buckland plays hen-pecked Ivan, lecturing on the bad side of tobacco, despite smoking himself and believing it to be health-giving.

Before he even starts, the physical pyrotechnics take over, twitches and gyrations illuminating a speech that soon diverges far from its subject.

Instead, we learn of Ivan's troubled existence with 20 children, a demanding wife and a desire to escape, becoming a Red Indian (as Native Americans were known at the time).

The hour comprises a technical tour de force designed to amuse rather than enlighten. It will particularly appeal to fans of physical theatre and the absurd.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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