×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway Review: ‘The Nap’

Professional snooker might be a foreign game to Americans, but eccentric characters and plenty of laughs fill Richard Bean’s wild tale of pros and cons.

With:
Ben Schnetzer, Alexandra Billings, John Ellison Conlee, Johanna Day, Bhavesh Patel, Max Gordon Moore, Heather Lind, Thomas Jay Ryan, Ahmed Aly Elsayed, Ethan Hova.

“I am a fish and snooker is my sea,” says Dylan Spokes, an aspiring marlin of a player in “The Nap,” the delightfully loopy comedy by the “One Man, Two Guvnors” playwright Richard Bean. Even with some deft explaining, Yank audiences may still be behind the eight ball — wait, there’s no eight ball — in this Brit-centric, billiard-like game that’s at the heart of the play. But they’re sure to revel in Bean’s eccentric characters and daft dialogue even as they raise their eyebrows over the plot — and plot twists.

There’s also something mysteriously appealing in entering the world of this pub-popular sport, here set in Sheffield, England, ground zero for snooker championships. Add high stakes, lowlifes and a wicked wit, and you’ve got a solid win.

Earnest Dylan (Ben Schnetzer) practices for the next big tourney in a dingy social hall when his charming rogue of a dad (John Ellison Conlee) drops by for support and deadpan yucks with his gentle-natured, philosophizing, vegetarian son. (When Dylan passes on a shrimp sandwich because he doesn’t eat anything with a brain, wise-guy Dad counters with, “They’re shrimps, they’re not novelists.”)

Comedy and plot kick in when Mohammad Butt, an “integrity officer” of the game (Bhavesh Patel) and Eleanor Lavery, an officer of the “national crime agency” (Heather Lind), make a surprise visit for a urine sample and words of warning about game-fixing, given Dad’s checkered history with the law and the gangster leanings of Dylan’s sponsor, Waxy Bush, a transgender woman played with icy cold snap by the terrific Alexandra Billings (“Transparent”). Also on hand is Dylan’s manager (Max Gordon Moore, who gives a hysterical life-in-extremis performance).

Malaprop-prone Waxy (who has “a peanut analogy”) was previously the (male) lover of Dylan’s mom (Johanna Day, hysterically blowsy), who now has a new seedy beau (Thomas Jay Ryan). Waxy turns the hometown-hero story into a crime caper when she demands that Dylan tank one frame of a match in order for her to reap a bonanza of worldwide bets — or else mom gets off’d.

This is a test for the ethically pure Dylan, who happens to have fallen in love with Eleanor — the least authentic part of this leap-of-narrative-faith comedy. Still, Schnetzer is sweet, sexy and millennial-appealing, as he keeps his character grounded while the comic stakes keep rising. But the entire cast, under Daniel Sullivan’s smooth-as-felt direction, score big as well.

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.

Broadway Review: 'The Nap'

Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 647 seats, $149 top. Opened Sept. 27, 2018. Reviewed Sept. 23. Running time: 2 HOURS, 15 MIN.

Production: A Manhattan Theatre Club presentation of a play in two acts by Richard Bean.

Creative: Directed by Daniel Sullivan; sets, David Rockwell; costumes, Kaye Voyce; lighting, Justin Townsend; sound, Lindsay Jones; production stage manager, Kevin Bertolacci.

Cast: Ben Schnetzer, Alexandra Billings, John Ellison Conlee, Johanna Day, Bhavesh Patel, Max Gordon Moore, Heather Lind, Thomas Jay Ryan, Ahmed Aly Elsayed, Ethan Hova.

More Legit

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Ben Platt Variety Power of New

    Ben Platt on Coming Out and the Queerness of 'The Politician'

    Ben Platt never imagined he would one day star in a series like “The Politician.” “I didn’t think I could be a star of a show in general starting out. I think I was like, ‘I’ll do Broadway. I can be on stage and I can play Jimmy in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Nathan Detroit [...]

  • Michael Jackson in concert in Milton

    Michael Jackson Musical to Open on Broadway in Summer 2020

    “MJ,” a musical based on the life and career of Michael Jackson, will open on Broadway in summer 2020. Preview performances will start July 6 before its official debut on Aug. 13. The stage show, which will include songs like “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Smooth Criminal,” was originally [...]

  • The Wrong Man review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Wrong Man'

    Credit songwriter Ross Golan for the seamless quality of “The Wrong Man,” his mesmerizing musical about a good man who deserves a good life but seems to attract nothing but bad luck. The show’s inventive book, music, and lyrics were all penned by this multi-hyphenate talent who was named 2016 BMI Pop Songwriter of the [...]

  • Kristin Chenoweth Broadway

    Listen: Kristin Chenoweth Wants to Write a Broadway Musical

    Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t just want to star in Broadway musicals. She’s thinking about writing one, too. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I think about it a lot,” Chenoweth said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “I want someone to collaborate with me on a story I have, and it would be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content