Dangers of steel works and war are highlighted in haunting play

Operation Crucible at Sheffield Theatres.
Operation Crucible at Sheffield Theatres.

A haunting and moving play by Kieran Knowles, based on the bombing of the Marples Hotduring the night of the Sheffield Blitz, was first performed in London, but is now being performed in the city where it is set.

Bob (Salvatore D’Aquilla), Tommy (Kieran Knowles), Phil (Paul Tinto) and Arthur (James Wallwork) are four young steel workers whose lives are changed by the events of that night.

The play is fast-moving. Scenes chop and change. Sound effects for the raid are eerie and frightening.

The focus is on evoking a whole community through the individual lives of the four men. The humour, which is both local and universal, is an integral part of the dialogue.

The steel works are vividly brought to life through the vigorous actions of the actors and some wonderful lighting effects. There are parallels between the dangers of the steel works and the dangers of war.

Although there are no women characters, women are a strong presence– their role in industry, Phil’s wife (Phil is concerned for her safety and that of their babyson), Tommy’s mother (who brought him up on her own, after her husband was killed in the First World War).

The men have taken refuge in the basement of the hotel, but will they be found in the wreckage?

Operation Crucible is at the Studio Theatre until Saturday, September 24.