Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh In on THE NAP on Broadway
The Nap celebrates its opening night tonight at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street)!
The Nap is a very funny look at the world of snooker - the British version of pool. Dylan Spokes, a fast-rising young star arrives for a championship tournament only to be confronted by the authorities warning him of the repercussions of match fixing. Before he knows it, Dylan's forced into underhanded dealings with a cast of wildly colorful characters that include his ex-convict dad, saucy mum, quick-tongued manager and a renowned gangster, to boot. It's a fast-paced comedy thriller where, in an exciting twist, the tournament unfolds live on stage. In its British premiere, The Guardian raved, "Ingenious," The Observer cheered, "Outrageously funny," and The Daily Mail called The Nap "brilliant and terrifically inventive." Directing is Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan.
The cast of The Nap features Alexandra Billings ("Transparent," "Goliath," recipient of the HRC Visibility Award), Tony Award nominee John Ellison Conlee (Murder Ballad, The Full Monty, "Boardwalk Empire"), two-time Tony Award nominee Johanna Day (Proof, Sweat, "Madam Secretary"), four-time and current 2018 United States National Snooker Champion Ahmed Aly Elsayed, Ethan Hova (Metrocards at Ensemble Studio Theatre, "The Blacklist"), Heather Lind (Incognito, Othello, "Turn"), Max Gordon Moore (Saint Joan, Indecent), Bhavesh Patel (Present Laughter, War Horse), Thomas Jay Ryan (The Crucible, In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Ben Schnetzer (Sticks and Bones, Pride, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan).
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: "The Nap" is less frenetically funny than "One Man," and more modest in scale. But it shares with its predecessor a fondness for the subterfuges and archetypes of classic farce, which Mr. Bean translates fluently into modern-day terms.
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Director Dan Sullivan's production is fine enough, though the pacing can slack at times when the funnier characters are offstage and the budding romance between Dylan and Eleanor takes over. The Nap may play better in Bean's home country, where audiences members are more likely to have a familiarity with the sport, but even on this shore it's a genial diversion with many good laughs.
Matt Windman, amNY: The production (staged with an ear for comic timing and an eye for physical bits by Daniel Sullivan, who is best known for directing contemporary American dramas) is great fun with thick English accents and foul language. Just a few weeks following the death of Neil Simon, it is nice to see that an old-fashioned, silly-but-smart nonmusical comedy can still find a place on Broadway.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: The best performances are from Schnetzer and Lind, whose characters try to navigate some sort of coupling in the middle of all the insanity. Most of the other actors have created types: they get laughs and they're fun, but you never feel them breathe the same air. This American premiere also is underpaced: it's written to move with the speed of the black careening toward triumph, to ricochet with the excitement of the break, but instead you get too many pockets of air. Until the balls fly; then you want to cheer snooker's first Broadway moment.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: A sprinkling of cute one-liners and two live snooker sequences in the second act-with improvised commentary-provide moments of relief from the forced plotting and even more forced romance, which converge in an inane finale. Can the current mania for British imports please take a pause? Not every play is meant to travel.
Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Little surprises lead up to a very big one in Richard Bean's new comedy "The Nap," which had its American premiere Thursday at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. This review won't disclose the Big Reveal, which is right up there with the one in David Mamet's "House of Cards." However, it's the many little surprises of the first act that most intrigue and delight.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Sorry, but American actors can't do regional English accents. OK, maybe Meryl Streep and a handful of others. But too few of the people on stage in The Nap, in which many of the best lines acquire their flavor from colorful Sheffield vernacular. Effortful delivery is just one issue with the wheezy direction of Daniel Sullivan, whose forte is definitely not this kind of snappy, suspenseful comedy, in which timing is everything.
Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: Why on earth did anyone think it a good idea to mount a Broadway production of a British farce about a transgender gangster named Waxy Bush who attempts to fix the snooker world tournament-especially one in which all of the characters speak in a mostly unintelligible working-class dialect? Having squirmed without cease through the U.S. premiere of Richard Bean's "The Nap," I'm forced to the conclusion that a not-inconsiderable number of New York theatergoers get a thrill out of hearing the words "f-" and "c-" pronounced with a Yorkshire accent. I can't think of another reason to do "The Nap," especially given the fact that the latest play by the author of "One Man, Two Guvnors" is relentlessly, incapacitatingly unfunny from start to finish.
Jessica Derschowitz, Entertainment Weekly: You don't need to know much of anything about billiards to get hooked into this witty play from prolific playwright Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors), which came to Broadway after a well-received 2016 run in the U.K.
Frank Rizzo, Variety: Two games are performed live with an actual snooker whiz, Ahmed Aly Elsayed, as Dylan's competitor. There's in-the-moment drama as the audience follows on large overhead projections as the game is played, with tensions broken by the laughs derived from the hush-speaking commentators. The second game brings even more fraught nerves as its conclusion is entirely up to the skill of Schnetzer - with an alternative ending if things don't go exactly as planned. But either way, the game - and this improbable comedy - ends with a solid shot in the corner pocket.
Greg Evans, Deadline: The Nap, Broadway's latest laugh from London, tries to fool us and sometimes does, though not in ways playwright Richard Bean might have intended. Teased with the appealing prospect of an evening of Martin McDonagh-lite, we're quickly handed a cartoon con job.
Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: No, The Nap is not quite as broad as One Man; it would be unreasonable to expect it to be, wouldn't it? But it is easily the funniest new play on Broadway. So go get snookered.
Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The Nap, which opens tonight in a Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Samuel J. Friedman, is the staged version of those not-quite-right British sitcoms. It is funny, but less funny than you'd like it to be. It entertains, but it is instantly forgotten. You can't shake the feeling that you're missing something.
Sara Holdren, Vulture: Happily, Bean has a sense for balance, and doesn't let his farce linger too long over romance. He soon gets back to the table: "[Play] with the nap," Dylan tells us, "the ball will run straight with the natural line. [Play] against the nap, the ball can deviate and drift..." For Bean, the nap is a straight line to a good joke. He knows his game.