The Nap

I don’t go to the theatre as often as I go to the cinema, but if there were a similar amount of releases each week I dare say I would.  Now, although this is meant to be a place for writing about films, I couldn’t resist a mention for my most recent theatre visit – The Nap, which played at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

It’s a fitting venue – The Nap is the name for the green baize which covers a snooker table, the Crucible has been the home of the World Snooker Championships for almost 40 years, and the play deals with the theme of match fixing in the game, with scenes set in the Crucible itself.

And it’s a hoot! Jack O’Connell (Starred Up; ’71) plays a young snooker player (Dylan) who is asked to lose a specific frame in one of his matches by a syndicate. But he loves the game and can’t imagine cheating in the one thing that has saved him from a life of petty crime. Egged on by his manager (Ralf Little), his father (Mark Addy) and a number of others, Dylan has a decision to make.

The play had the audience in stitches, and crowd participation was the order of the day when the game was on and the tension mounted (well, we were watching snooker at the Crucible!).

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Former professional player John Astley both coached Jack O’Connell and played the role of his opponent when actual snooker was called for – and Jack knows his way around a snooker table!

I suppose you get most out of the play if you understand the game and have heard of some of its legends, but this isn’t necessary, as the mix of humour and tension makes for a great experience.

Special mention for Louise Gold playing Dylan’s sponsor, the transgender Waxy Chuff, whose choice of just the wrong word created the biggest laughs.

Written by Richard Bean, creator of One Man, Two Guvnors, it was always going to be funny. I saw it on its last day, but if it ever makes another appearance, I’d go again.

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