This month, Third Angel brings to Sheffield Theatres a conspiracy-theory detective story for the twenty-first century.
The Department of Distractions is a play about an organisation so clandestine you won’t ever have heard of it.
Until now that is….
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 Metro 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 do 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.
A story they started has become out of control, and they are in danger of being exposed.
Unpicking the snags in the fabric of everyday life, The Department of Distractions may leave you ultimately with more questions than answers.
Alex explained 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.”
Alex is joined on the creative team by Third Angel co-artistic director Rachael Walton, stage designer Bethany Wells, music and sound designer Heather Fenoughty, lighting designer Katharine Williams and dramaturg Stacey Sampson.
The cast are: Rachael Walton, Stacey Sampson (This is England, Channel 4 and Partus, Third Angel), Nicholas Chambers (The Great Gatsby, Wilton's Music Hall, The Life and Loves of a Nobody, Third Angel) and Umar Ahmed (My Name Is, Tamasha Theatre Company, The Journeys, Third Angel).
Created with the lightness of touch, dark humour and ferocity for detail that Third Angel has become renowned for, The Department of Distractions plays from Friday, January 25, to Saturday February 2 in Sheffield Theatre’s Crucible Studio.
Based in Sheffield, since it was formed in 1995, the company has been touring innovative and entertaining performance work across the UK and internationally for the last 23 years.
They have performed in theatres, art centres, cinemas, pubs, swimming pools, car parks, even a public toilet in Bristol and a damp cellar in Leicester.
The company produces work that combines theatre, live art, film, video and photography.