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Any Means Necessary review at Nottingham Playhouse – ‘bold and insightful’

Kate-Sissons and Samuel Oatley in Any Means Necessary at Nottingham Playhouse. Photo: Robert Day Kate-Sissons and Samuel Oatley in Any Means Necessary at Nottingham Playhouse. Photo: Robert Day
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Nottingham was one of the cities where, over a period of many years, undercover police infiltrated groups of political activists, won the trust of individuals and formed intimate relationships with them. With the Pitchford inquiry into the scandal still in progress, this is a bold and timely commission from Kefi Chadwick, a fictionalised account that underlines the human cost of such betrayals.

We are told from the outset that personable southerner, Dave, – energetically played by Samuel Oatley – is leading a double life. But part of the cleverness of the play is that, like Mel, his victim, we don’t know the full extent of his deception until the last gasp. Kate Sissons plays Mel with depth, intelligence and integrity, as a woman who was no easy prey. Nicholas Karimi doubles beautifully as the affable Scots activist, Jimmy, and the ruthless Gav of Special Branch.

Jutting promontories on Sara Perks’ multi-layered set provide snapshots into these other lives, into which Dave easily transfers from the shabby comfort of Mel’s flat. Video projections and effective sound design convey the violence of the policing at the protests themselves, and the menace and foreboding in the music mirrors the damage done in the lives of the protagonists.

Any Means Necessary also features some strong scenes of women giving evidence during the Parliamentary hearing, but the second half feels overlong and ends in a series of false summits. Chadwick’s play remains powerful, political stuff though, a true-life horror story in which individuals count for nothing and everyone is expendable.

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Bold, insightful and political drama which tells an important story