Cherry Smoke by James McManus is currently playing at the Revolt Artspace in Kensington, Melbourne.
Presented by Sol III, a new Melbourne based production company founded by young producer Andrei Schiller Chan, the play follows the lives of Cherry, Fish, Bug and Duffy from childhood to adult spanning across 10 years.
Staring Angela Scundi (Cherry), Michael Robins (Fish), Michael Argus (Duffy) and Leone White (Bug) Cherry Smoke operates on two levels; that which plays out on stage, and also that which occurs in a somewhat fantastical world. Playing around with time and space a lot, with a raw set and clever lighting and sound design, the four actors are free to explore their characters within designer Ryan Hodge’s set.
We caught up with actor Angela Scundi (Cherry) who will soon appear in the upcoming tour of Rocky Horror for a chat about the show.
What was the audience reaction to the show on opening night?
The word of the hour was ‘intense’! Many a ‘gasp’ can be heard throughout the duration of the play. People are really falling in love with the story. There are only 4 of us on stage, which gives an audience the opportunity to really get to know Cherry, Fish, Bug and Duffy and invest in them. The characters are in a constant struggle with what they want vs what they have. Something everyone can relate to. Lots of ‘ooing and ahing’ upon entering the space too- the set looks amazing, it really is like stepping into another world.
Is there a target audience for this work? Who are they?
We have had tremendous support from James McManus (author) despite him being on the other side of the world it fells like he’s been right there with us from the beginning. I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him, but this was in response to him asking us how opening night went and our reply letting him know the audience reaction:
“One of my pipe dreams in life is to have regular walks of life come see my plays, so that warms my heart.
My brother is a truck driver and I always think ‘if theatre wasn’t so damn elite at times, he would love it for the same reason he and I love a good boxing match.’ It’s real, right in front of you and full of fucking drama”.
What’s the most exciting thing about working with such a small cast?
It is pretty wonderful especially considering we all studied together, so there is something very special about having the opportunity to work together. There was immediate trust from the get go. It is always such a treat to work with friends on stage.
Revolt Artspace is an incredible venue – have you worked there before?
The space is pretty magical and Ryan and Tim who are the head honchos are incredible to work with. I have rehearsed in the venue, but this is my first time performing in the space. Both Michael Robins and Michael Argus performed in ‘The Dreamer examines his Pillow’ at Revolt last year and were looking for an excuse to go back. When you consider the likes of 45 downstairs, Chapel off Chapel, theatre works etc, Revolt may not be everyone’s first choice of venue. For us, there was no question regarding where Cherry Smoke would play. The team at Revolt is so supportive and passionate- their energy and imagination is infectious. They build worlds. There are so many different spaces at Revolt, each has their own personality. We walked into ‘The Dock’ and the decision was made for us.
How does this show work in the space?
Considering we are literally in a ‘dock’, the space certainly has its obstacles. The characters in Cherry Smoke live near a river, we have a jetty as part of the set. On opening night, thanks to some November rain, the space ended up flooding. We had a literal river flowing through the space- quite the special effect!! Otherwise, The Dock provides the perfect backdrop for Ryan Hodge’s design- made up of raw materials, it’s really gritty and visceral.
Can you describe the play in 5 words?
WELL, I’ll have to quote The Chicago critic here and say “ visceral, raw, sensual and violent” . word number 5 would be ‘romantic’. Perhaps not in the Disney sense, but it’s there.
Cherry Smoke is playing until Nov 23. Tickets are available at RevoltProductions.com