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Where there’s ‘Smoke’ ...

<p>The oppressive humidity and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s noisy air-conditioning that must be turned off at show time create a stifling discomfort that sets an appropriate backdrop for “Cherry Smoke,” James McManus’ tragic ode to life and love on the other side of the tracks.</p>

The oppressive humidity and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s noisy air-conditioning that must be turned off at show time create a stifling discomfort that sets an appropriate backdrop for “Cherry Smoke,” James McManus’ tragic ode to life and love on the other side of the tracks. Gurnet Theatre Project director Brett Marks keeps the non-linear play on course with an ensemble that mines every syllable of dialogue for gritty authenticity. Chris Graham captures the bitter, violent essence of a street fighter and Jackie McCoy engenders the character of his love interest with a perfect dose of wide-eyed optimism.