Confessions of a City

Richard Hurford
Part of Crucible Housewarming
Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
(2009)

Publicity photo

The audience of about 120 was divided up into four groups, Map of the Heart, Kaleidoscope City Trip, Light Fantastic Trail and City Mystery Tour, and then set off in different directions with a guide through the complexities of Backstage Crucible, newly rebuilt and due to open in February 2010.

My first stop was at The House of Special Purpose, evidently a secret laboratory where we were given special clues and passwords which we were warned were the only things to prevent our immediate obliteration. While the laboratotry attendants did indeed manifest epileptiform seizures, we escaped without damage to the next rendezvous with a little old lady describing the virtues of Sheffield in response to the hazards of World War II and its bombs and shortages.

In a darkened and blue-lit toilet, we intruded on a young man in the throes of self-injection of drugs, accompanied by a number of destructive hangers-on at first encouraging him, and later, helped by an artistically minded companion who first fell and then recovered, appeared to overcome their problems and look forward to a better life.

Two further scenes indicated the warmth of the people of Sheffield, who referred to everyone as 'Ducks' and the encouragement of boy meets girl amongst the range of immigrants found in the City.

This moralistic venture captured many of the virtues of the City, overplayed others, and omitted what one might call the everyday qualities of this open, green city of friendly people. Perhaps this was rectified by the fact that only four professional actors led each of the presentations with the remaining players drawn from a large number of Sheffield volunteers who had responded to a request to join in this venture and certainly proved their skills.

It was a most interesting and unusual entertainment, designed by Kevin Jenkins, with interesting touches of reality amongst the global picture, well presented by the many participants, and that includes the 'audience', under the direction of Ruth Carney.

Reviewer: Philip Seager