Entertainment » Theatre

The Nap

by Brooke Pierce
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Oct 4, 2018
Ben Schnetzer in "The Nap."
Ben Schnetzer in "The Nap."  (Source:Joan Marcus)

"The Nap," a new Broadway comedy about a professional snooker player named Dylan Spokes, is advertised as coming from the same playwright, Richard Bean, who wrote the hit "One Man, Two Guvnors." But though this play has the same off-kilter sensibility, it has neither the music nor the manic energy that made "Two Guvnors" a zany joy.

For the uninitiated (or the un-British), snooker is similar to pool, and Dylan (Ben Schnetzer) is a rising star in the game. On the eve of the World Snooker Championships, which brings him back to his hometown of Sheffield, Dylan's attempt to practice is interrupted by a parade of wacky characters. There's his working-class, occasional drug dealing dad (John Ellison Conlee); his mooching mother (Johanna Day) and her tacky loser boyfriend (Thomas Jay Ryan); his flashy, sleazy agent (Max Gordon Moore); a peculiar pair of police investigators (Heather Lind and Bhavesh Patel); and a transgender gangster named Waxy Bush (Alexandra Billings).

These characters certainly are colorful, but the humor is uneven. Bean's script has plenty of weird and funny bits, but far too much falls flat. Director Daniel Sullivan, usually so reliably excellent, fails to bring the necessary fizz and fun to the proceedings - at least in the first act. Fortunately, things pick up considerably in the second act, when the plot (which includes an elaborate con, a love story, and some live snooker playing) finally kicks in.

The most intriguing characters in "The Nap" are the straight arrow hero, Dylan, and his delightfully bizarre antagonist, Waxy Bush. Coming from a rough background, Dylan is a sweet, sincere young man who was saved by snooker. He is anchored by his principles, which include his vegetarianism (the subject of some funny ongoing jokes) and his refusal to cheat... the latter of which causes him trouble with Waxy.

Waxy Bush is absurd and unpredictable, played to perfection by Billings. Waxy's backstory includes a criminal past, a sex change, and limb loss. She seems to have gone legit and become Dylan's sponsor, but can he really trust her? It's interesting to see this character in the context of Dylan's hard-scrabble community. There's something a bit touching about the way that everyone in this world seems to have accepted Waxy's transition, without ever being unrealistically politically correct about it.

Ultimately, "The Nap" seems full of potential, but doesn't fully deliver. Fans of off-beat humor and groan-worthy gags will find some of those pleasures here, but overall the play is overcome by sluggish pacing and hit-or-miss laughs.

"The Nap" runs through November 11 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street, NYC. For information or tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.thenapbroadway.com.

Brooke Pierce is a freelance writer and playwright in New York City. Her plays have received staged readings at the American Theatre of Actors, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Stage One Theater. Brooke is a member of the Drama Desk and the Dramatists Guild.


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