BWW Reviews: 20 TINY PLAYS ABOUT SHEFFIELD, Crucible Studio, Sheffield, April 9 2013

By: Apr. 10, 2013

20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield is the second production from the Sheffield People's Theatre, a community theatre initiative from Sheffield Theatres, where locals aged 12-85 are involved in acting and production. This piece comprises several short pieces (I will have to take the title's word for it that there were twenty as I lost count!) of drama, prose, song, poetry and movement, all connected by clever choreography, direction and sound.

The result is a tribute to everything Sheffield, from student life to football fandom, from Jessica Ennis to the Arctic Monkeys, from local food producers to charity campaigners. Some of the pieces comprise pulsating rhythms of speech, music and movement, such as the tributes to the Sheffield Star newspaper and the local rivers that form the transitions between many of the plays. Others are more straightforward short scenes. The most unexpected piece is a musical tribute to the snooker, which is held at the Crucible theatre annually. References to recently closed stores and political news bring it right up to date, and, unsurprisingly, a certain Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Sheffield Hallam gets a bit of a kicking in several places.

The 60-strong cast are excellent, bringing life and character to all their sections - it can't have been an easy task to rehearse as the scenes flow continually into one another and they have to change between roles and pieces on a regular basis. Credit must go to the production team for co-ordinating the disparate styles of the individual plays (writers include DC Moore, Marcia Layne and Kaite O'Reilly) and making them feel like a coherent whole. The set design and lighting aid the sense of contrasting mood and there is always something new to see in this design.

The high-concept aspect of this piece means that it has the potential to go horribly wrong - it is testament to those involved that, instead, it is pacey and engaging, with something for everyone in the audience to recognise as they think about their own experiences of Sheffield - although it may be more accessible for residents of the city than those who are unfamliar with the places mentioned.

The production is quite long (1h 15 first act; 1h 25 second act), and although it is very fast-paced, comments from those who sat up in the gods were that straining from a height to see the performance for so long wasn't entirely comfortable - something the theatre may want to consider for future performances.

This production confirms the value of regional theatre being a place not only to celebrate the best national and international talent, but somewhere to celebrate local people and places - Sheffield might attract some high-profile actors and directors to its stages, but it also has plenty of talent of its own.

20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield runs until Sat 13 April. Tickets have sold out.

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From This Author - Ruth Deller

Ruth Deller is variously an academic, an am dram enthusiast, a television watcher, a Kylie fan and a vegetarian.... Ruth Deller">(read more about this author)


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