Rock / Paper / Scissors: Emmerdale and Line of Duty stars in Sheffield Crucible and Lyceum plays

One star of a trio of plays taking over three Sheffield theatres had a quirky introduction to the Crucible – playing a cat in a bikini!

By Julia Armstrong
Friday, 10th June 2022, 9:09 am

Denise Black, well known for her TV roles in Coronation Street as Denise Osbourne and Emmerdale as Joanie Wright, made her acting debut at the Crucible Theatre in the unusual part in 1980.

She said: “My stage debut was in Miniatures. I played a cat at a picnic in a swimsuit. It was before I was called Denise Black.

“I stood where I was told and miaowed when I was told and had a picnic. A review talked about ‘leggy Denise Nixon’. I’ve never been called leggy!”

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The cast of Rock / Paper / Scissors, a trio of interlinked plays which is taking over the Sheffield Crucible and Lyceum Theatres

One of Denise’s co-stars in Rock / Paper / Scissors is Alastair Natkiel, who played notorious villain Lee Banks in the series Line of Duty.

He said that people are often surprised that he is a nice, friendly person in real life!

Created by Sheffield playwright Chris Bush, who wrote Richard Hawley-inspired show Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Rock / Paper / Scissors features three plays running at the same time on both Crucible stages and in the Lyceum.

‘It’s been done before with two plays but not three because it’s crazy!’

Line of Duty star Alastair Natkiel, seen here in rehearsals, appears as a photographer in a trio of new Sheffield theatre shows, Rock /Paper / Scissors, at the Crucible and Lyceum Theates in Sheffield

The story looks at a family scissor firm whose members have to decide its future after the owner dies.

Do they keep going or use the historic building for something else?

Denise said: “It’s bonkers but good bonkers! We’ve got 14 people in the cast and an enormous back-up crew.

“We are doing three plays – the ambition of the idea is something you only get here. It’s colossal.

Denise Black in rehearsals for a trio of new Sheffield theatre shows, Rock /Paper / Scissors, at the Crucible and Lyceum Theatres in Sheffield

“The blueprint by Chris Bush shows she is a brilliant writer, it’s so clever. It’s for Sheffield, about Sheffield now.”

Alastair agreed: “It’s funny and moving. It’s essentially one story but from different people’s perspectives.

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“It’s set in a factory where the owner’s died and there are various different people in his life who feel they are entitled to or want to have the factory and take it on and what they want to do with it.

Director Rob Hastie in the rehearsal room for new show Rock / Paper / Scissors, which takes over the Crucible and Lyceum Theatres in Sheffield at the same time

“You see in that from the three different stories.”

Denise said that Rock, which is on the Crucible main stage, is “funny, there’s a level of farce, and there’s some amazing visuals”.

Paper, in the Lyceum, “is about relationships and getting things wrong”.

Scissors, in the Crucible Studio, “features the young ones and it's also very funny”.

They say the shows also feature great music.

Alastair said: “We think it’s a theatrical first. It’s been done before with two plays but not three because it’s crazy!”

Members of the cast have to run from one stage to the next to appear in the different plays at the right point in the action, so timing is crucial.

It’s a special idea dreamed up as part of the celebrations of the Crucible’s 50th birthday.

The duo really hope that audience members will see at least one play, as each stands alone, then feel inspired to watch the others too.

Alastair last worked at the Crucible on Standing at the Sky’s Edge. His dad Rod, who went on to become a theatre and TV director, had his first job at the Crucible in 1974 as an assistant stage manager.

‘I feel really strongly that theatre is one of the most healing things’

He said: “I went back to Line of Duty after Sky’s Edge. I had this discussion on set with an actor who’s done mainly TV work.

“I said there’s nothing quite like 1,000 people laughing when they laugh and you never quite know. You think there’s certain lines going to get a laugh and they don’t and you respond to that and feel that.

“The reactions are in the moment and straight away.”

Denise added: “Now more than ever we really need each other and then you got Covid. I feel really strongly that theatre is one of the most healing things that can happen.

“It happens that night and that night only with those people and the audience really affects us. I think that’s what we need more than anything.”

And if what you need more than anything is another series of Line of Duty, Alastair says: “So would I like to know about series seven and whether there’s going to be one!”

Fingers crossed. In the meantime, Rock / Paper / Scissors runs at Sheffield Theatres from June 16 to July 7. Book three tickets and get a 20 per cent discount.

Buy at the box office in person, call 0114 249 6000 or go online at