Drama in Sheffield invites you to look past the ‘fake news’ headlines

The Department of Distractions, Third Angel. L to R: Rachael Walton, Umar Ahmed, Stacey Sampson, Nicholas Chambers
The Department of Distractions, Third Angel. L to R: Rachael Walton, Umar Ahmed, Stacey Sampson, Nicholas Chambers

Third Angel brings to Sheffield Theatres a conspiracy-theory detective story for the 21st century. 

The Department of Distractions is a play about an organisation so clandestine you won’t have heard of them. Until now.

The Department says its job is to plant stories in the world “to make life more interesting.” Others would argue that it’s as much about stopping us looking in certain directions: a single glove in the street, a torn-up love letter in a tram carriage, a pair of shoes hanging from a telephone wire or a phone box that rings as you walk past…

So what aren’t we looking at amidst all these distractions?  In a world where ‘fake news’ is a term we have become all too familiar with, this show asks, just how much are we paying attention, and who is trying to influence what we notice (and what we don’t)?

Written by Third Angel Co-artistic Director Alexander Kelly, the show explores the ever-elusive ‘Department’ just as things are beginning to unravel for the team, as a story they started has become out of control, and they’re in danger of being exposed.  

Unpicking the snags in the fabric of everyday life, The Department of Distractions may leave you with more questions than answers.

Alex explains how the show explores some ongoing fascinations and obsessions of the company: “I’ve loved detective stories since I was a teenager – starting with both Raymond Chandler and Moonlighting.

“Several of our shows and projects have hinted at them, but this is the first time we’ve done a full-on detective story.

“We’ve been developing The Department of Distractions since 2014. In that time it has been fascinating, compelling and depressing to see some of the ideas it explores become more pressing.”

The Department of Distractions is at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield from January 25 to February 2. Tickets: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk