Skip to content


Cigarettes And Chocolate
Published on Monday, 17 August 2009

Cigarettes and Chocolate is a play about everything but cigarettes and chocolate. It offers a promising beginning, an engaging middle – but a disappointing ending. Still, if you’ve never thought about the addictiveness of the simple act of talking, you should come and see what happens to the main character, Gemma.

After a successful holiday in Italy with her boyfriend Rob and best friend Lorna, Gemma suddenly gives up talking, just like the cigarettes and chocolate she has forsaken in the past. Undoubtedly, Anthony Minghella’s play has a message.

The cast of young actors showed some brilliant acting; the story meandered between the characters’ lines, and the chairs were constantly moved on the stage around Gemma, who stood silent in the centre. Finally, at the end, she burst out into a flat monologue - but it didn’t throw any light on the main question why she stopped talking, except for the vague “I am protesting”.

The faces of the actors and the relationships revealed reminded me of the TV series Friends. I laughed at Alistair’s awkward explanation of love, sympathized with the relationship problems of the pregnant Gail, listened bemused to the conversation between Alistair and Rob about his Argentinean house keeper (with the mysterious name Conception) - and I wondered what had happened in Italy.

At the end of the performance we were given a copy of the picture Gemma had stared at with great devotion. It was a paper cutting of a Buddhist monk, who had wrapped himself in silence. Was it all a whim, or a sudden moment of insight from Gemma?

Despite the excellent acting and dramaturgy, this play has serious flaws. There isn’t a well-defined conflict, and the character of Gemma is ghostly, without psychology. Most of all, though, the play doesn’t offer a resolution. It ends where it started – Gemma doesn’t speak.

<< The Importance Of Being E...   Show Down >>