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Here's Everything You Need to Know Before Seeing 'The Nap'

Category Broadway

|by Ron Fassler |


For starters, the title refers to the pool table-like surface of the game of snooker

The Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2018-19 season will have its official opening on September 27th at its flagship Samuel J. Friedman Theatre with Richard Bean’s comedy-thriller play, The Nap. Bean’s previous Broadway show was 2012’s One Man, Two Guvnors, was a hilarious comedy that effectively launched the career of James Corden, in a genuinely side-splitting performance that earned him the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. The Nap, previously produced in England, arrives on these shores after receiving a five-star review in The Guardian, with The Observer and The Daily Mail calling it “outrageously funny” and “brilliant and terrifically inventive,” respectively – reason enough to import it and take a chance on Broadway.

The cast of 'The Nap,' which opens September 27 at the Samuel Friedman Theatre (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The cast of 'The Nap,' which opens September 27 at the Samuel Friedman Theatre (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The Nap premiered in 2016 at the Crucible Theatre in the city of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, more than a three-hour drive from the heart of London’s West End. Why Sheffield, you may ask? Well, it’s the home of the World Snooker Championship, that’s why. And what is snooker? It’s a game akin to pool or billiards. But this annual event draws millions of viewers with its wall-to-wall television coverage that airs on the BBC, with enormous crowds that pile into public places to watch the tournaments live as well.

Bean’s interest in the subject, according to an interview he gave to the New York Times last month, is that snooker “is a working-class game. You read the autobiographies of the top players, the tropes are exactly the same: alcohol, gambling, fast cars, women trouble, dystopian families. That’s your raw material really. At the same time, it’s unbelievably difficult, and it’s like playing first violin in the Philharmonic; if you haven’t done the 10,000 hours, it’s not going to happen.”

With that in mind, Bean has created characters set against a tournament – including a dysfunctional father-mother-son dynamic, low-level gangsters, a charlatan sports agent and a possibly corrupt policewoman – tinged with the threat of murder in the air, in addition to live snooker games that play out in real time. Smartly, an actual champion has been cast for the match that is the play’s climactic finish, which should provide a bit of polish to an otherwise off-the-walls farce.

Dan Sullivan, a Tony Award winner for Proof in 2000, will be directing Ben Schnetzer in his Broadway debut, accompanied by Tony nominees Johanna Day (Sweat) and John Ellison Conlee (The Full Monty) as his parents. Rounding out the cast are Ethan Hova, Heather Lind, Max Gordon Moore, Bhavesh Patel, Thomas Jay Ryan, John Wojda and Ahmed Aly Elsayed, the aforementioned snooker pro (2018’s United States champion, in fact). But the most intriguing bit of casting is that of Alexandra Billings, an actress who made a big splash in the Amazon TV series Transparent. She is playing a character named Waxy Bush (that’s not a typo), a transgender gangster with a mechanical hand, bizarre taste in clothing and a penchant for malapropisms – such as when she discusses someone’s dire “peanut analogy.”

And, in case you might be wondering, The Nap of the title refers to the surface of a snooker table, and not something you do for a bit of rest. With any luck, no one should nod off during a rollicking show such as this one portends to be.

The Nap opens September 27th at the Samuel J. Friedman. Tickets are on sale now through November 11th.

Ron Fassler is the author of Up in the Cheap Seats: A Historical Memoir of Broadway. He is also an actor, director and blogger, whose “Theatre Yesterday and Today” columns can be read at www.ronfassler.org.

 

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