ComedyDramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Nap – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Writer: Richard Bean

Director: Richard Wilson

Reviewer: Sheila Stratford

Dylan Spokes (Jack O’Connell) is a local lad with a passion for snooker. He hits the big time, but will he win the championships? Will he manage to rise above the rogues in his family and avoid the temptations of match fixing?

Now he is reaching the heights, everyone wants a cut of the action; from his father, ex-con Bobby Spokes (Mark Addy) to his slippery manager TonyDanlino(Ralf Little). There is also his low life mother Stella (Esther Coles) and her friend, local gangster Waxy Chuff (Louise Gold). Dylan has really struggled against the odds. He recognises that psychology and the support of family and friends are all important, but none of the people around him holds his principles and true love of the game.

The Napis not only a comedy but a thriller and an opportunity to watch some great snooker with all the drama and tension that it creates. There are no magnets or tricks guiding the balls into the pockets. This world première is written by Richard Bean, the award-winning writer ofOne Man, Two Guvnorsand directed by highly acclaimed Richard Wilson, Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres. They recognised the need for a competent snooker player at the heart of the play and approached the World Snooker Association who recommended John Astley.

John Astley reached number five in the world amateur rankings before turning professional. John has been excellently cast as Duncan Ferryman, the player Dylan is up against in the championship finals. Off stage, John was able to coach Jack on how to move and react as a professional snooker player.

There is strong language throughoutThe Napand plenty of base humour. The production is not for the feint hearted but the pitch and tone of the text are perfect and appropriate for the message it is getting across. There is raw emotion at stake and the comedy is relentless. The malapropisms of Waxy Chuff are hilarious, who has the audience laughing out loud, while Dylan’s dad is a loveable rogue and the timing of his comments had people in stitches.

There is a dream sequence in the play that is slightly incongruous, but supplies history to the game and transports the audience to a bedroom scene. There is a definite, and real feel-good factor despite the exploitation of Dylan by those around him. Eleanor Sargeant (Rochenda Sandall), supposedly a hard-nosed police officer, is poignantly attracted to Dylan’s vulnerability and goodness.

There is no better location for this world première than the Crucible Theatre, the home of the World Snooker Championships. Theatre lovers and snooker devotees are in for a treat. There are set pieces of snooker wizardry, love, exploitation and lots of laughs.

Runs until Saturday 2nd April 2016 | Image:Mark Douet

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