Sport: it’s drama unwritten. So what would happen if you took sport, with all its unpredictability, inherent drama, conflict and heartbreak and combined it with one of our finest comic writers?
You’d get The Nap, a play that is as malleable as the nerves of a director, writer and actors might ever want a script to be and as hilarious as an audience might ever hope.
You also get a play that makes someone who is a big deal in the theatre world punching the air and shouting ‘yessss’ at the denouement (he was right behind me - and there’s no criticism implied, good on him I say, the reaction is entirely understandable).
It’s so obvious: a play about snooker at Sheffield Crucible. It must have been an ambition of writers and directors for years. I’m glad it’s the duo of Richards that has cracked the code of how to do it: writer Bean and director Wilson.
They bring us a play full of flights of fantasy, of one-liners that become at times dizzying in the sheer pace of their arrival and of the kind of drama that snooker fans will recognise from the moments at the end of a deciding frame when you suddenly realise the arena has been holding its collective breath for several minutes a ball makes its path across the baize.
Dylan Spokes is a bit of an odd-ball, a Sheffield lad whose commitment to the game of snooker the kind that makes world champions. His dad, Bobby, has a colourful history and his boy’s best interests at heart.
Cue a story that will take you on entirely unexpected turns - unless you’re expecting a post-op transsexual with a robot arm that can take a snooker cue attachment who goes by the name of Waxy Chuff. If you are, seek help.
As Dylan, Jack O’Connell is a quiet presence on stage. It is when he is surrounded by a brilliant cast who really grasp how to play the absurdities Bean has written that the play springs into life. Mark Addy is simply magnificent. He holds the Crucible in the palm of his hand. Ralf Little as Dylan’s manager is similarly hilarious.
I think Bean is about to join the likes of Michael Frayn in terms of our great writers of farce.
This is one of the funniest nights at the theatre Yorkshire has seen for a while.
To Apr 2.