The Nap – 15 March 2016, The Crucible, Sheffield
It’s not very often you get to enjoy a preview of a world premier, so even when still slightly jet-lagged from a five day adventure in the Big Apple, I wasn’t going to turn down being in the audience for “The Nap” at Sheffield’s Crucible, the new comedy thriller by award-winning writer Richard Bean.
My last experience of snooker at the Crucible was several years ago when I was briefly a marketing volunteer for Sheffield Theatres trying to sell squares of the theatre’s carpet to those attending the snooker world championships. This time was very different, though the cast included one real life snooker player John Astley, as the show was a laugh out loud comedy thriller about love, honour and not getting snookered.
I might not be a snooker fan myself but couldn’t resist seeing this, the latest play by the writer of the hilarious “One Man, Two Guvnors” and starring the acting talent of one of the best sitcoms of the last 20 years “The Royle Family” Ralf Little and of one of the best British films of the last 20 years “The Full Monty’s” Mark Addy, who were joined on stage by “Skins” star Jack O’ Connell, Chris Brailsford, Esther Coles, Dermot Crowley, Louise Gold, Yousseff Kerkour and Rochenda Sandall.
Directed by “Only When I Laugh” and “One Foot in the Grave” legend Richard Wilson (read about the evening I spent in his company here), the play tells the story Sheffield born, non-typical snooker player Dylan Spokes who during the biggest week of his life (he’s in the second round of the championships), suddenly finds everyone wants a piece of him, from his ex-con dad to the local gangster Waxy Chuff and even the snooker corruption squad.
Championship performances came from Jack and Mark as father and son, Ralf in his secondary roles in the show as an Officer in India and the snooker commentator and Rochenda as the police sergeant and powerful female co-star who like a lot of the characters wasn’t quite as she seemed. Other rankings deserving a mention include Esther and Dermot who reminded me of a 21st century Lilo Li and Freddie Boswell, and Louise who pulled off a character that can only be described as a one armed cross between Cruella De Vil and Lily Savage.
As the closest me and my boyfriend will ever get to watching a snooker match at the Crucible, praise needs to be given to the snooker itself, the professional snooker player in his first ever acting role and Chris as the referee. Praise also needs to be given to the set designer James Cotterill for a set that could only really work at the Crucible and did so successfully and to the stagehands who silently and swiftly changed the set whilst dressed as snooker players.
The comedy itself relied heavily on Northern, and often specifically Sheffield, humour and spoken word over physical comedy, but this wasn’t a bad thing as the script was of a high quality and those of us who are new to snooker got a history lesson thrown in too. For the ladies in the audience there was also the opportunity to enjoy Jack in just his pants, even if it was for only a few seconds.
The Nap is on at The Crucible (the home of snooker) from now until Saturday 2 April (no show on Sunday 20, Sunday 27 and Monday 28 March) at 7.30pm, with additional matinee shows on Saturdays and on Thursday 17, Wednesday 23 and Thursday 31 March at 2.30pm. Tickets are a bargain for a show this good, with tickets starting from £22 and available from the Box Office in person on 0114 249 6000 or through the website at www.sheffieldtheatre.co.uk.