Members of the cast of Rockston Stories: An Addictive Cabaret
Members of the cast of Rockston Stories: An Addictive Cabaret. Photograph: Siva Zagel

A cabaret about crack cocaine addiction performed by a cast including recovering addicts is coming to Hoxton Hall this month.

Rockston Stories: An Addictive Cabaret is a play about a cabaret singer who becomes addicted to crack, using the testimonies and stories of people researched locally.

The play is set in ‘Rockston’, apparently a reference to Hoxton’s nickname among crack cocaine users.

Told through the singer’s perspective, the play travels through time and space back to when Hoxton Hall was a music hall and temperance society meeting house.

The cast are nearly all in different stages of recovery from addiction, and the play includes some of their live testimonies, as well as characters from Hoxton’s historical past and present.

The production is by Outside Edge Theatre, a theatre company that produces work about addiction. It aims to help people affected by chemical addiction to achieve their potential by building skills and confidence.

Rehearsals for Rockston Stories
Rehearsals for Rockston Stories. Photograph: Siva Zagel

Outside Edge was founded in 1998 by Phil Fox, an actor and former addict who died last year.

The play is dedicated to his memory, and devising it has made his successor Susie Miller realise that death and grieving are things most addicts are familiar with.

“We also had another cast member who passed away in April,” says Miller. “His actual words are in the script within the play, his final lines that he shared in our rehearsal are actually spoken. Grief is an everyday emotion because it’s a common occurrence for people in recovery to pass away.”

In the play the main character, Thalia, reaches ‘rock bottom’ and is faced with a decision.

“In terms of recovery they call it the jumping off point,” says Miller. “It’s the point where you either make a decision to change and step into recovery or often people will die through suicide or accidental death.”

Aside from the serious business of addiction, but as a cabaret Rockston Stories aims to entertain too. There are musical numbers with singers and instrumentalists, performing a mixture of classic songs and others written by cast members.

The cast ranges from professionals who have been in West End shows such as Cats and Les Miserables to amateurs, and Miller says this shows how addiction reaches all spectrums of society.

“Some have been in recovery for over 20 years, some just a few months, and some are professionally trained actors and directors and others have very little performance experience. It makes it very lively and vibrant to work with them.”

Rockston Stories: An Addictive Cabaret is at Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, N1 6SH from 29 September to 17 October.

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