I’ve rarely seen a play more suited to its setting than this one by Richard Bean. It is all about snooker, it is staged in the theatre that since 1977 has housed the World Snooker Championship, and it even includes a bit of competitive match-play. On top of all that, it boasts an ingenious plot and more one-liners than you’d find in a Bob Hope tribute act.
With uncannily accurate timing, Bean has seized on the subject of the potential for corruption in sport. Bean’s hero, Dylan Spokes (Jack O’Connell), is a rising snooker star who returns to his native Sheffield only to receive warnings from the sport’s authorities about match-fixing. No sooner has he been warned than he is instructed by a one-armed, transgender bandit, Waxy Chuff, to, in the parlance of the sport, “tank a frame” in the upcoming world championship. Dylan, who claims the game is his whole life, seems to have little choice, given that Waxy threatens to kill his mother unless he complies.