Competition: Win Roald Dahl Museum tickets and limited edition books


The Political History of Smack and Crack

21 June 2022 to 9 July 2022 Riverside Studios & NIAMOS

“The history of England jumps off its axis. 2am, 8th July, 1981, all the major cities of England burn.”

Marking 41 years since the civil disturbances in Moss Side in 1981, The Political History of Smack and Crack by Ed Edwards is returning to perform in both London and Manchester this summer.

Starring Neil Bell and Eve Steele, who are reprising their roles from the original production, this acclaimed play will have a week’s run at Riverside Studios before heading to Manchester to perform at the historic and disused Hulme Playhouse Theatre, once the renowned home of the BBC Northern Orchestra and the Nia Centre for African and Caribbean Culture.

Two-time Offies nominee and Winner of Summerhall’s Lustrum Award, The Political History of Smack and Crack, directed by Cressida Brown, crackles with rage and humour as it candidly sheds light on the road to recovery.

Inspired by the writer’s own experience in jail and rehab, this electric restaging of Ed Edwards’ shattering portrait remembers the events of 1981. The Political History of Smack and Crack is an urgent, angry, funny love song to a lost generation crushed by the heroin epidemic at the height of Thatcherism. Edwards’ thrilling production takes a playful and politically sharp look at the reasons for the UK’s heroin epidemic of the 80s and 90s.

Edwards comments, “Most plays I’ve seen about heroin show the horrors and the degradation of the experience from the personal perspective as if hard drugs have just fallen from the sky. We see some smackhead heading for the bottom and then getting better - again as if by magic. I wanted to show two things differently. Firstly, that the smack - and in its wake crack - didn’t appear from nowhere: they appeared at a particular time for a particular reason and that reason is political. Secondly, I wanted to deal with addicts in recovery - mainly because most of the addicts I know are in recovery - and I wanted to show the madness that goes along with stopping using drugs. I also wanted to depict a fucked-up relationship because this is the only type of relationships I know. I want to make people laugh and make people cry.”

Not since Trainspotting has addiction been so entertaining (★★★★ Lyn Gardner, Independent)

Performance Dates

21st – 25th June 2022

Riverside Studios

101 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith, W6 9BN

4th – 9th July 2022


Chichester Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5EU