Review: Any Means Necessary. Nottingham Playhouse

four star

Review originally written for The Big Issue online.

Images credit: Robert Day.

Directed by Giles Croft, Kefi Chadwick’s play Any Means Necessary, the last in the line of Nottingham Playhouse’s Conspiracy Season, is a cracking play about betrayal and the exposing of police corruption.

5A - Mel (Kate Sissons) and Dave (Samuel Oatley) - Any Means Necessary directed by Giles Croft (Photo by Robert Day)

8A - Bev (Beatrice Comins), Emma (Louise Mai Newberry) and Mel (Kate Sissons) - Any Means Necessary directed by Giles Croft (Photo by Robert Day)

Writer Kefi Chadwick has created a fictionalised version of true life events that centre around undercover police officers forming, often long term, relationships with the women they were spying on. Equally she looks at the devastating effects of their sudden departure from the lives of the women. To the women the departure of the man feels like a bereavement and a psychological trauma. Not only were their partners not there any more but, the love of their lives were not who they said they were. Everything they had built up together over many years was false including the memories and the hopes and their plans for the future. The piece reflects on such abuses over thirty years as well as events connected to the Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station arrests.

10A - Mel (Kate Sissons) and Karen (Lily Lowe-Myers) - Nay Means Necessary directed by Giles Croft (Photo by Robert Day)

14A - Gav (Nick Karimi) - Any Means Necessary directed by Giles Croft (Photo by Robert Day)

In a recent interview Chadwick says “I just knew I wanted to write about this story, and the emotional and personal betrayal and political story around it. But I didn’t want to write it without the approval and involvement of the real life women; I felt that they had been exploited enough. I knew what my version of this story would be – its important these women are not just victims. They are people who reclaimed ownership of their lives by making the case, bringing it to light and exposing corruption.

The multi-level set (designer Sara Perks) with its Escher-like staircase represents undercover police officer Dave’s life. The three rooms above the main stage are Dave’s marital home, the Met police station and Mel’s mother’s house. Sound designer Adam McCready drives home the impact of the happenings and revelations with great aural impact.

16A - Mel (Kate Sissons), Gav (Nick Karimi), Dave (Samuel Oatley) and Karen (Lily Lowe-Myers) - Any Means Necessary (Photo by Robert Day)

18A - Mel (Kate Sissons), Jimmy (Nick Karimi) and Dave (Samuel Oatley) - Any Means Necessary directed by Giles Croft (Photo by Robert Day)

There is fine acting throughout with doubling up from the small cast; Beatrice Comins, Jo Dockery, Nicholas Karimi, Lily Lowe-Myers, Louise May Newberry and Kate Sissons is excellent as Mel.

Any Means Necessary is a fascinating play that looks at events where the audience are likely to know the ending and the corrupt motivations of the police. Yet we still sit as onlookers breathlessly observing the lies unfolding and they are told with such conviction that our sympathies find it difficult to know who to side with. Emotionally we are definitely drawn to the women affected but is it the case that Dave (Samuel Oatley) is ultimately so confused by his own thoughts and actions that we can feel for him too? After all when his job is done he is cast aside by the police force as casually as they did with the women’s lives; with one big difference – the women fought back.

Runs until 20th February.

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