Winter 2013-14 | December 2013 - February 2014

Photo by Max Lacome-Shaw


by Kieran Knowles

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 December 2013

The World Premiere

“Sheffield’s on fire, it glows orange, like hell, like a furnace, like steel. The streets which were familiar are now just bricks, mortar and flame. My childhood, my home… just a pile of stone.”

The world premiere of a new play, set against the backdrop of the Sheffield Blitz – Operation Crucible, a first play by new playwright Kieran Knowles.

A story of four ordinary men in extraordinary times...

On the 12 December 1940, more than six hundred people lost their lives in over seven hours of continuous bombing by Germany's Luftwaffe. Their objective? Wiping Sheffield’s world famous steel works - the heartland of Britain’s munitions manufacturing - clean off the map. The ruthless attack left Sheffield in ruins – destroying families, shattering a way of life, and changing the city forever.

At 11.44pm on the night of the raid, a single 500kg bomb reduced the Marples Hotel, which stood proudly in Fitzalan Square, from seven storeys to just fifteen feet of rubble. Only one of the ten compartments in the hotel’s cellars withstood the blast. Within it, trapped, were four men. This is their story, from beginning to end...


Playwright Kieran Knowles makes his professional playwriting debut with Operation Crucible. He is a graduate of Loughborough University, LAMDA, and the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.


Director Bryony Shanahan trained at East 15 on the Contemporary Theatre course and is Co-Artistic Director of multi-award winning Snuff Box Theatre. Directing includes Chapel Street  (National Tour), Bitch Boxer (Edinburgh Festival, Soho Theatre and National Tour), The Altitude Brothers (Redbridge Drama Centre, Pulse Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival), You and Me  (Greenwich Theatre and the Blue Elephant Theatre), The Lift  (Etcetera Theatre) and Babies  (Southwark Playhouse). Assistant Direction includes The Gruffalo's Child (National Tour) and Bound  (Southwark Playhouse and National Tour). Awards include The Argus Angel Award for You and Me and the Holden Street Theatres Award for Bitch Boxer which will see the show transfer to Australia in 2014. Bryony is also a guest director at East 15 Acting School and was recently short-listed for the inaugural Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Hodgkiss Award.


Salvatore D’Aquilla trained at LAMDA under the Richard Carne Trust Scholarship. Theatre includes War Horse (New London Theatre) and The Way of the World (Chichester Festival Theatre). Television and Film includes Doctors and ORB.

Kieran Knowles has appeared in The Owl and The Angel (New Wimbledon Studio Theatre),The Winter’s Tale, The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Witches’ Promise (Birmingham Rep), Waiting For Lefty (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Darkness (Lakeside Theatre, Colchester) and The Exclusion Zone (Southwark Playhouse).

Joshua Mayes-Cooper trained at LAMDA. Theatre includes Chapel Street (National Tour). Television includes Silk, Holby City and Doctors. Film includes Outpost 11 and Effie Gray.

Paul Tinto trained at LAMDA. Theatre includes Chariots of Fire (Hampstead Theatre and Gielgud Theatre), Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland), Release (Pleasance Edinburgh), Jamie the Saxt (Borderline Theatre Company) and The Odyssey (National Theatre). Television includes Taggart and First Light.


Folie à deux Productions follow their critically acclaimed and OffWestEnd Award nominated productions of Summer and Smoke (Southwark Playhouse), I Am A Camera (Southwark Playhouse) and Still Life and Red. Peppers (Old Red Lion Theatre) with their first production of new writing, together with new company From Ground Up Theatre Company


"An unforgettable, absorbing production…a Jewel of the London Fringe." ★★★★ The Times on Summer and Smoke

"Folie a Deux excels in capturing the complexity of Coward’s characters in its staging of the compelling Still Life and the comic Red Peppers." ★★★★ The Stage on Still Life and Red Peppers

"Harry Melling and Rebecca Humphries triumph in this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's classic." ★★★★ London Evening Standard on I Am A Camera.


★★★★ The Public Reviews
★★★★ The Good Review

“A short little gem...this is storytelling at its best, generous and warm hearted, lyrical yet real.” Laura Wells, The Good Review

“An excellent piece of theatre, portraying the lives of four hard working steel manufactures and their fateful story on the night of the 12th December 1940, during the Sheffield Blitz...Truly deserving of a full house for each performance.” Emily Jones, Bargain Theatreland

“A fine example of how accomplished actors with a good script and an imaginative director don’t need trimmings to make effective theatre, for very effective it is.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Miniature in scale but operatic in effect, this exploits the intimacy of the Finborough to make this a very moving première.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“By the end of an uninterrupted and gripping 80 minutes, we’ve seen something of both the glory of which they speak and the tragedy of the Sheffield Blitz.” Jon Wainwright, The Public Reviews

“Performed on only half of the already small Finborough stage, and yet create an impression of both an industry turning from making cutlery to munitions and of a city and a nation under existential threat.” Jon Wainwright, The Public Reviews

“With a compelling story of life and death in a war-torn city: these are ordinary men living through an extraordinary time.” Jon Wainwright, The Public Reviews

“Knowles’ brilliance as a writer lies in his ability to infuse this tragic narrative with nuggets of humour.” Emily Jones, Bargain Theatreland

“Salvatore D’Aquilla as youngster Bob, Joshua Mayes-Cooper as Arthur, still living with his dad, Paul Tinto as Scot Phil, new to fatherhood, and playwright Kieran Knowles himself as gentle Tommy, brightening the air-raid shelter with a bit of wallpaper from the attic, all bring their characters vividly to life.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Played with absolute sincerity by Paul Tinto.” Emily Jones, Bargain Theatreland

“Performances with such vitality, rhythm, pace and charm.” Laura Wells, The Good Review

“Bryony Shanahan’s production is full of movement and image.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Directed with such sensitivity by Bryony Shanahan.” Laura Wells, The Good Review

“With the help of Seth Rook Williams's lighting and Daniel Foxsmith's sound design, this minimalist production has a powerful impact.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide


Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 December 2013

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm.

Performance Length: TBC

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

Full booking information

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here


Directed by Bryony Shanahan

Presented by by Folie à deux Productions and From Ground Up Theatre Company in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.