The Nap***** (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield)

Posted: March 18, 2016 in Theatre

FullSizeRender-93Surveying a grubby Snooker hall, Bobby Spokes (Mark Addy) declares “What a dump, what a f***ing dump, not exactly the Crucible is it?”, thereby temporarily dashing the hope that this could be the best piece of site-specific theatre ever. Bobby is a part-time drug dealer, full-time layabout, father of young Snooker player Dylan (Jack O’Connell), ranked 107 in the World and rising. Richard Bean’s new comedy is a satirical and very timely look at how professional sport and corruption are entwined inextricably, suggesting that this particular sport was even tainted at birth. As with One Man, Two Guvnors, Bean excels in creating working class heroes and small time villains. Dylan is such a hero, his integrity unquestionable, he is (he thinks) incorruptible. The chief villain here is priceless – a one-armed transexual named Waxy Chuff (Louise Gold), a cross between Al Capone and Sheridan’s Mrs Malaprop. As Waxy works to lure Dylan into a betting scam, the young player’s incompetent manager (Ralf Little), drunken mother (Esther Coles) and her Irish beau (Dermot Crowley) become involved and a law enforcement couple (Youssef Kerkour and Rochenda Sendall) try to intervene. The plot is that of a thriller with a few twists and turns, but essentially, the play is an uproarious comedy, full of splendid running gags, ripe characterisations and spot-on performances. Of course, the action culminates in the exact spot where the play is being performed, a treat indeed, but the biggest joy comes from Bean’s incidental dialogue, particularly that between Bobby and Dylan (both actors superb), which is literally laugh-a-line. I don’t believe it, but Richard Wilson directs with a real feel for the characters, allowing the actors to flesh them out fully and giving the play time to breath, as in a lengthy display of real Snooker (by John Astley). There are a couple of quibbles: a dreamlike sequence, showing British army officers inventing Snooker in India, misses the pocket, as does an unconvincing romantic sub-plot. But such small things can be forgiven, because, overall, this is the funniest new comedy since 1M2G, theatre’s equivalent to a 147 break.

Performance date: 17 March 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.