Adelaide Fringe Theatre Review: Smoking with Grandma

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-12-09-42-amPhoto credit: Threewoods Playwright

What: Smoking with Grandma

Where: Studio at Bakehouse Theatre

How much: $23 full price, $20 concession, $15 Cheap Tuesday, $20 BankSA customer, $18 Artist Discount, $18 Fringe Member

When: 17th – 18th February, 20th – 25th February

My grandfather died a few years ago. He was sick most of my life and I never really knew him that well. It wasn’t until we were deep in the planning of his funeral that I learned about his life, about his experiences when he migrated to Australia, and about his struggles here. Smoking with Grandma tells this story.

Maia’s grandmother has recently died and she is in sitting in her empty home, surrounded by her belongings. Her grandmother is embodied by a red dress that Maia dances around in as she works. When she happens across her old diaries and letters, Maia discovers the struggles that her grandmother experienced as a Taiwanese refugee and her pain as she waited, year after year, in the Tiu Keng Leng refugee camp. Maia is left knowing her grandmother better than before, and all she wishes is for the opportunity to sit, talk, and smoke with her grandma.

While a bit slow at times, Smoking with Grandma is immersive. As you walk down the corridor to the theatre the set spills out the room. The audio and video effects bring the historical context into focus, with sound bites explaining the important events in both Hong Kong’s history and Maia’s grandmother’s life.

The play moves back and forth through time, transporting you from a small home off the coast of Hong Kong, to the Syrian refugee camps of the present. Bringing the common human struggle into sharp focus, as I leave, Maia’s grandmother’s words stay with me, “in dreams we plant the seed of our future”. They seem only more bittersweet now.

3 out of 5 stars

Natalie Carfora

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