Review: The Distance @ The Crucible

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Our entertainments writer Chad went to see The Distance at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre. Read on for his thoughts on the production…


Going into The Distance I expected a different show to what I witnessed. The poster and descriptions about female friends from university reuniting after a few years set up expectations of a light breezy comedy. And whilst the show was undoubtedly very funny, it was in no way light; dealing with various issues of motherhood and the stigma of mothers who make the choice to leave.

The stage was simply, but effectively, set as a living room sporting a modern Ikea chic for the majority of the play, giving an excellent naturalistic feel. This coupled with the in the round setting made the audience the four walls of the living room, drawing them into the narrative but also making them as complicit as the fly on the wall.

But despite the great set, this was a play for the actors. Both Daniel Hawksford and Steven Meo were both excellent as the two brothers who transcended roles that could have very much been side-lined. Meo played Vinnie as larger than life, but in a way perfectly befitting the naturalism of the play, switching from his laid back persona to a powerful, impassioned outburst.

Hawksford was more reserved in his acting but beautifully so. His toned down mannerisms created some of the funniest moments of the first half but also tugged on the heartstrings as the audience witnessed a good man try to deal as best he could with not only mistakes he has made, but supporting those around him as well. Special mention must also go the young Joshua Sinclair-Evans making his debut in the show as fifteen year old Liam who stole each scene he was in and gave a very realistic portrayal of a teenager without falling back on the clichés.

But the show itself would be nothing without its three central female characters Bea, Alex and Kate played by Michelle Duncan, Charlotte Emmerson and Charlotte Lucas respectively. As the central character who is more of a facilitator of story Michelle Duncan perhaps has the hardest role here as Bea. In the first half she is restricted to feeling sorry for herself making her performance fairly one note.

This all changes in the second half when she is able to spread her wings more with a drunken interaction with Liam which is both sweetly funny and emotional. She also has an outburst where she is finally able to say her side of story. This monologue turns Bea away from being an elusive character hard to root for to someone the audience can only sympathise with no matter how difficult her choice.

Both Emmerson and Lucas have more to do and are stunning throughout. Emmerson as Alex plays the ditsier of the friends, underplaying the role for full comedic effect, saying the plays funniest line, but she also imbues the character with real heart. Alex isn’t as on top of her life as Kate but she’s coping as best she can, as they all are, and of all the characters she is probably the one the audience felt closest too by the end of the play.

Lucas as Kate is the one who is on top of everything and this is clear from the moment she appears. She wants to help Bea but in the way she thinks is right. It’s a difficult role as it could fall into being an argument rather than a character, but Lucas does such a mesmerising job of playing Kate as a strong character who is strong because it’s the only way she can cope with the frailties in her life. In a play somewhat about growth, it is Kate who appears to have grown the most which is something the audience might not have expected at the beginning of the play.

All in all The Distance was a stunning piece of theatre that tackles the familiar theme of modern motherhood but from new angle, with a brilliant script and a truly outstanding cast. It is a play that will stay with you in more ways than one.

The Distance is showing until 14th November. Visit the Sheffield Theatres website to book tickets today!


Words by Chad Bentley

Picture courtesy of Sheffield Theatres

Jess is your Deputy Editor

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