Closed 1h 20m
Operation Crucible
Midtown W
80

Operation Crucible NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(94 Reviews)
Positive
95%
Mixed
5%
Negative
0%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Intelligent, Great staging

About the Show

After a successful run as part of 59E59's 2018 'Brits Off Broadway' series, this drama about four ordinary men who survive the Sheffield Blitz of World War II, returns Off Broadway.

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Member Reviews (94)

72
Disappointing, Intense, Entertaining

See it if You are familiar with a Sheffield accent. The 4 actors do a great job of entertaining but the story is hard to grasp

Don't see it if If you’re looking for something that is easy to follow.

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Clever

See it if touching story of steel workers in an English town during WWII, their trauma when the town is bombed; high-energy as they act out their jobs

Don't see it if have trouble with British accents, don't want war stories, don't like minimalist staging with no props Read more

Critic Reviews (24)

November 17th, 2018

“Knowles has molded and formed a fine piece of theater that shares with its audience not only this moment in time, but a doorway into the lives of the people who inhabited it. Delivered staccato, but melding together into musicality, the wonderfully crafted dialogue of the play reflects friendships of people knowing each other for a long period of time and riffing off of that familiarity in shared experience...A compelling story...sure not to leave you untouched.”
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November 14th, 2018

“The cast are superb individually and as a team. Their ensemble work is brilliant. Bryony Shanahan’s tight direction adds much to the production. The simple set and costumes by Sophia Simensky are apt. Seth Rook Williams’s low lighting is effective and Daniel Foxsmith’s sound design is appropriately ominous. The only negative, and it is not a serious one, is that the thick Sheffield accent is occasionally hard to decipher.”
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May 15th, 2018

“Powerfully directed with a machine-tooled precision of its own by Shanahan, limits its point of view to that of four people...Captures so efficiently the dividing of war’s devastation. And it is all accomplished on a single simple set, with a cast of four and 80 minutes of stage time...Research informs his script, yet it is woven with a confident seamlessness into a story of men who, for much of our time with them, can barely see what’s in front of them. There is not a wasted word or gesture.”
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May 15th, 2018

“In this period of physical and spiritual darkness, the show's direction shines. Shanahan isn't afraid of murk any more than she is of silence...The ingenuity of the designers, director, and script is heightened by the cast. All convince as working-class Englishmen while remaining distinct personalities...The play's emotional whammy complements its historical specificity...A reminder of both our humanity and our capacity for brutality."
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May 18th, 2018

“Mesmerizing...Features an outstanding cast...The story is a timeless perspective of the chaotic effects that war has on civilians...Each of the four men's past lives and their present circumstances are portrayed with spirit, heart and some humor...The cast deftly assume multiple roles to create a portrait of each character...The actors master the show's intriguing dialogue and its rapid scene changes...An unforgettable and affecting theatre experience.”
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September 12th, 2016

"A powerful and energetic piece, plunging the audience into the blazing centre of the steelworks and the darkness of the bombed-out hotel's basement, with clever choreography and simple yet effective lighting changes...Although the play isn't telling new stories per se, it skilfully blends its focus on those who worked in the steel industry with its depiction of the war...Whilst it packs an emotional punch, it rarely gets swamped in sentimentality."
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May 16th, 2018

"These moments are so many building blocks that don't add up to a play. The structuring of the episodes feels scattershot, and none of the characters emerges with a distinctive profile...The cast of four -- Salvatore D'Aquila, Christopher McCurry, James Wallwork, and Knowles -- is technically skilled, but Shanahan's direction is too high-pitched for theatre...This is the kind of narrative that is better suited to prose than the theatre. Everything about is well done, but it never catches fire."
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May 15th, 2018

“The natural rhythm of the play extends the rhythm of the quartet's teamwork...Even in straightforward narration, they literally finish each other's sentences...as the story unfolds. As directed by Shanahan, it all becomes a highly choreographed and near poetic display...The heart-pounding events are dramatically reinforced...Thanks to the strong performances and supportive design elements, Americans are likely to find themselves caught up in a war story.”
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May 19th, 2018

"While it's meant to be helpful, a glossary of local jargon in the program is usually a surefire sign that you're going to have difficulty following the play. Adding to the confusion is that the often dimly lit play leaves us in the dark, in both senses of the phrase. Given the circumstances of the plot, it's understandable that both director Bryony Shanahan and lighting designer Seth Rook Williams wanted to have many of the rapid-fire scenes unfold in utter pitch black. But it doesn't abet..."
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May 15th, 2018

"The actors evoke the portraits of these men with vitality...Their exertions are beautifully executed. Each of their motions creates a picture of their operation, and their abilities and mental stamina...The direction and staging by Bryony Shanahan is flawlessly executed by the actors who work as a marvelous team...The play’s currency cannot be understated and for that reason and its thrilling execution, it should be seen."
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May 28th, 2018

"Directed with imagination and taut pacing by Bryony Shanahan, the performances are sublime...Mr. Knowles writing is rich and his characters deeply empathetic. With poetic, earthy language, he manages to tell with clarity four individual stories in 80 minutes, weaving in and out of time periods and framing the play with vivid descriptions of that historic night bombs fell on Sheffield."
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May 20th, 2018

"It’s dramatic and powerfully engaging as it flutters about, sometimes confusingly, jumping forward and backwards in time...The men portray this team of four as a unity of souls constructed with precision like integral parts in a larger machine that is more like a family then anything else...In general, their stories work wonders, pulling us in to a warm hearty and manly hug, but it’s in the overall direction, singular pacing, and the arch of storytelling that causes the walls to collapse."
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August 1st, 2015

"The production is great at contrasting the control the men hold over their tools in the factory – 'it’s magic lads' – with their lack of power against the more ‘metalized’ identity-extinguishing soldiers showering bombs down on them...Knowles’s writing, made sharp with the barbarous humour of the Yorkshire men as they jokingly swap jibes also has a poetic almost streams of consciousness quality...This helps externalise their individual experiences of war."
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May 16th, 2018

"Just as important as its words is the inventively choreographic direction…A high-intensity performance in which each word, gesture, and activity is precisely calibrated…Succeeds in creating a strong sense of localized male camaraderie, stoicism in the face of danger…and anger under stress. As performed…it tends to be more theatrical than dramatic. Long passages in the dark…offer opportunities to doze. The characters…are easier to differentiate by their faces…than by their personalities."
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May 18th, 2018

“Playwright Knowles puts us in place, time, tenor, and horrific incident with imagination and muscularity, yet never goes overboard...There’s not a weak link in this compelling ensemble. Every actor pulls his weight with respect to his peers. Focus is complete; timing impeccable, physicality redolent. Yorkshire accents are made clear...Director Shanahan helms the piece with creativity, power, and adroit minimalism...A compelling theatrical experience. Beautifully produced.”
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May 18th, 2018

“Energetic and affecting, and a little disorganized. It’s also intensely physical...Caroms around like a pinball, never spending more than a few minutes in one location and transitioning schizophrenically from narration to dramatization and back again. Shanahan paces it furiously...So cohesive a quartet that it’s hard to single any of them out...A fine little play...It might be even better if Knowles worked a little more logical cause-and-effect into it, and if he didn't seem to have a case of theatrical ADD.”
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May 19th, 2018

“Knowles’s harrowing drama...based on actual events...What makes the entire experience so riveting, are the men presented. The play deeply examines just who these men were...The acting is very strong. The portrayal of each man is distinct enough to create a compelling picture, both as individuals and as friends. Most striking is how at ease they are with each other...Shanahan’s direction is excellent...Both a stirring historical lesson and a powerful human experience.”
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July 31st, 2015

"A lot of shouting swiftly plays to diminishing returns and so it proves, frustratingly, in this promising new work...An excess of undifferentiated bellowing bedevils Bryony Shanahan’s try-too-hard production, pulling crucial focus from the narrative at key moments. When Shanahan allows the play to take a deep, calm breath and trust in Knowles’s words, as during the hugely affecting ending, it’s far more satisfying."
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July 31st, 2015

"Knowles’s mosaic-like approach assuredly builds to some gut-wrenching final moments. These later scenes are the best...In contrast, the play’s early moments, while inventive and energetic, feel breathless and rushed. But when the production slows down and has the confidence to allow quiet, stillness and its atmospheric lighting and sound to draw the audience in – it’s electrifying, personal and raw."
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August 2nd, 2015

"It is through the quality of ensemble acting, movement and writing that this play stands or falls, and by and large it succeeds admirably...From the outset the pace is set fierce and furious with pages of rapid-fire inter-cut dialogue and fizzing interactive physical energy...There is plenty of rough, joshing humour and then pools of repose where each character in turn is allowed more inward moments of self-reflection. This is very assured and mature writing for a first play."
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September 10th, 2016

"High-spirited discussions in Knowles’s brisk, strenuously physical depiction of male camaraderie. The play also demonstrates how the bonds formed in the foundry begin to crumble beneath the rubble of the Marples hotel...Shanahan’s high-tempo production is forged from molten flashes of industrial choreography, but does well to keep the individual characters in focus...Knowles’s close observance of the steel-making process is enough to make even riveting seem a riveting prospect."
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August 5th, 2015

"An amazing play about ordinary people involved, against their will, in momentous events...Having met Arthur, Bob, Tommy, and Phil, I really feel like I was there with them...Over the course of the production, the audience gets to know each one of them intimately...Fantastic from start to finish which manages to humanise an inhumane event perfectly...This really is theatre at its absolute best."
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July 31st, 2015

"'Operation Crucible’ goes at such a breakneck pace. His sharp script and Bryony Shanahan’s dynamic, textured production blast onto the intimate stage...An episodic, non-chronological structure allows us to jump into the workers’ lives, to enjoy their bombastic work banter and watch tender family portraits. The underlining sentimentality is shot through with no-nonsense humour, which saves it from being saccharine."
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September 11th, 2016

"This is live theatre at its best. A brilliantly written play...superbly directed and performed with huge energy and sensitivity by a cast of talented actors with exceptional rapport...Shanahan takes the play at a cracking pace...and is full of invention when exploring the comic potential of the play...The four actors are impressive in different ways...A usually quite inhibited audience has risen to its feet to applaud."
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