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20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield

Published by: Paul Tyree on 10th Apr 2013 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield


Sheffield People’s Theatre

Tuesday 9th April – Crucible Studio, Sheffield

Reviewed by Melanie Creaser

Sheffield People’s Theatre is back following their first production, Lives in Art, in November 2011.  20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield is directed by their Creative Producer, Andrew Loretto and brings together this collection of five minute plays which seek to explore modern-day Sheffield in all its glory; the good and the bad; the highs and the lows.  Provocative areas such as racial intolerance and degeneration rather than regeneration are explored but ultimately it is a celebration of Sheffield, its environment and its people.
 All the writers are connected to the local area in some way and range from the relative newcomer to those who are award winning.  The cast of 62 (boasting a huge age range) has been recruited through a series of auditions from the Sheffield area as well as existing members of the Sheffield People’s Theatre.
 The plays, as would be expected, span a wide range of styles and genres, something for everyone it might be said.  However, it is a tall order bearing this in mind to offer a collection of performances which will be universally appealing.  Indeed, there is the occasional blip.  Some segments fail to capture the imagination as well as others and there is a problem at times with voice projection from a small number of the players.  That said, on the whole these snappy, short plays flowed from one another surprisingly well and were in the main variously dramatic, surprising, amusing and uplifting.  In fact, by the end the viewer has experienced a whole range of responses which shows surely that the audience had been engaged as desired.  Indeed the reaction from the sell-out crowd was warm throughout.

 The physical movement of the cast as they went from one idea to another was seamless as it was within the scenes.  A project such as this could have come across as extremely bitty and it is a credit to the cast, production team and direction that it succeeded so well in this way. 
 The play which asked the question, “Where is the centre of Sheffield?” stood out with its conversation-stimulating assertion on the plight of the city centre with its claim that, “…the centre of Sheffield is old folk; it’s memories.”  Similarly interesting was the running girl who feels at times uninspired to continue her training due to the adverse effect of Jessica Ennis and the pressure she subsequently felt to succeed rather than enjoy.  The fertility sketch was pleasing but lifted to a level higher with the introduction of “Eric” played beautifully by one of the more mature cast members.  His one-liners were a treat and beautifully delivered.
There were times the performance waned a little but was always lifted again such as when the snooker song brought us back into the fold with its delivery and its wit and humour.  The Sheffield closing down sale was a satirical hit and perhaps an apt way to bring proceedings to a close when the idea was reprised at the end of the performance.  Indeed, the plays, when dealing with less attractive ideas and opinions about the city managed not to depress but to enable the viewer to be sentimental about some of the less desirable aspects or perceived problems in the city, cleverly encouraging awareness and discussion but not despair.
One would not expect to find such a wide range of styles in one production and this can’t help but hold the performance back a little as due to individual tastes there will always be sections which don’t particularly appeal but this does not make for a bad experience; it is just something to be accepted.   On a personal level, the sketches were far more entertaining and satisfying than some of the other genres on offer.  The chanting for example at the beginning of the evening simply grated on the nerves.  Others may not agree but that is the beauty of having such variety on offer.  It is a little like a tasting menu.  There will be morsels where you are left wanting a bigger piece and others you would perhaps choose to pass over.  On the whole though, this innovative event is provocative and entertaining and well deserves the high level of interest the city has shown and the resulting excellent ticket sales.
 If this sort of local interest offering is appealing then don’t hesitate next time this company comes along – get your tickets quickly as if tonight’s example is anything to go by with its overall impressive show of enthusiasm and production values, they are only going to get even more popular in the future if their next project can capture the local public’s imagination once more.

20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield runs until Saturday 13th April.

Tickets for this production have now SOLD OUT. For returns, please call Box Office on 0114 249 6000 0114 249 6000 


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Good to see innovative productions can also convert tickets into cash!
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