A Good Smoke is an in depth study of a small family that faces the large problems of addiction, alienation and the feeding of a newborn baby. The mother of the family suffers from a history of an abusive childhood and tries to erase her pain with narcotics and cigarettes.

At best, these drugs only distort her thinking and wreak havoc on her emotional life. The rest of the family has been trained to take care of Mom. This includes a hard drinking Dad, the two sons, Dave and Joe, and the daughter, Susan.

But, the balance has been upset because Susan just had a baby and the baby is not thriving. And the same day Susan gave birth, not to be outdone in the attention department, Mom went into a psych ward brought about by a drug withdrawal.

The family is functioning at its worst level when it needs to be functioning at its best. Dave flies in from the other side of the country and manages a shrill dose of blame. Joe, who has never left home, retreats even further into taking care of his mother. And Susan, sutured and exhausted, follows her basic biological need to get her newborn child to live. Who saves the baby is what this story is about.


The one act version of A Good Smoke was performed at The Moving Arts Theatre in Los Angeles under the direction of Michael Cooper featuring Carol Hickey, Tim Orona and Jonathan Del Arco. Shortly thereafter, the whole troupe was invited to join in The Turnip Theatre Festival in New York. As a full length play, A Good Smoke has had readings at The Black Dahlia Theatre and West Coast Ensemble Theatre in Los Angeles. The full length version of A Good Smoke had its world premiere at The Production Company in Los Angeles. It was directed by Don Cummings, with (in alphabetical order) Blake Anthony (Joe), Dennis Delsing (Dad), Madelynn Fattibene (Susan), Barbara Gruen (Mom), Henry Gummer (Dave) and Mary McBride (Betty). Set and Lighting Design by August Viverito. Costumes by Zoe Buck. Sound by Bob Blackburn. A Good Smoke was a semifinalist for The Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. A Good Smoke had a reading at The Public Theater, directed by Pam MacKinnon with the following cast: Grace Gummer (Susan), Henry Wolfe Gummer (Dave), Debra Monk (Betty), Joe Paulik (Joe), John Rothman (Dad) and Meryl Streep (Mom). A Good Smoke has continued to be developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, directed by Austin Pendleton and has been optioned for a Broadway production. A Good Smoke reveals the power that exists in families even when they are functioning at their lowest level.