Review: Tobacco Road by Incognito Theatre

Incognito Theatre are back at the Fringe with a show that puts a human face to the gritty underbelly of 1920s London

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 04 Aug 2018
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Tobacco Road

"You know, I thank God every day that I don't have a dick." 

It's the Jazz Age in Britain, and organised crime rules the roost in London. There are gangs aplenty, and five lost souls are tired of doing the dirty work without reaping any of the reward. Incognito Theatre's Tobacco Road will push you to think about what you want from your own life, while you're secretly considering how successful you’d be as a full time criminal.  

What really underpins the show is the desire to make something of yourself. The First World War brought great destruction but, afterwards, promises of a new life for women and the working class. These little moments where the gangsters express their hope for a prosperous future are hopeful and full of pathos. Physicalised, stylised theatre often detaches the audience from the actors, but Incognito Theatre have cleverly combined their gorgeous choreography with complex characters that feel incredibly human.

From punch ups to paralytic drunks, it would be amiss not to mention Zak Nemorin’s skilful work as the choreographer. It’s grotesque, over the top and just how you’d imagine the roaring twenties to be. The actors don’t miss a beat in creating the deplorable world they’re forced to live in. With such a strong performance throughout, though, it’s a shame that it just peters out at the end. The audience are caught out by the final blackout. There are a few scenes that could be cut down to give Tobacco Road the time for the finale it deserves.

Incognito Theatre are a physical theatre company, borne off of the Young Pleasance. This is their fourth year at the Fringe.