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Review: Any Means Necessary at Nottingham Playhouse

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

With innovative staging combined with a fascinating and carefully arranged plot, one driven by police cover-ups that are based upon real-life events, Any Means Necessary has the potential to be an incredibly provocative piece of theatre. Whilst it achieves this in many respects, in one aspect it slightly misses the mark.

21 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, Theresa May ordered an independent inquiry into the police and their undercover work, taking the press by storm. In light of this and in response to this year’s impending major public inquiry which will follow on from May’s 2014 investigation, Kefi Chadwick’s Any Means Necessary explores the true story of an undercover police officer, exposed in 2011, who had been living amongst an activist community in Nottingham.

Chadwick explores the effects that police work in this vein can have when undercover police officers infiltrate the lives of civilians, forming attachments with women and then vanishing when they have recovered the information that they need. Often, this type of treatment leaves these women averse to future relationships, unable to trust anyone other than themselves. Not only are the effects upon the women exposed but the dehumanisation of the police officers is highlighted, with Chadwick establishing their sense of apathy towards both the wives whom they betray in the name of their work and the women whom they manipulate during their undercover assignments. With verbatim-esque narratives interwoven with the depiction of Mel (Kate Sissons) and Dave’s (Samuel Oatley) fractured union, the fact that Mel’s tale is not unique becomes clear. Moreover, with a realistic setting in the age of GM crop protests and reactions against E.ON, the play makes police misconduct come alive for an audience still aware of this issue, especially in light of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.

Firstly, upon entering the Nottingham Playhouse, the audience are struck by theatre designer Sara Perks’ brilliant staging choices. With four varied settings placed at different levels, the production is able to move between elements of its plot in an instant. With lighting designer Chris Davey frequently forming silhouetted figures, certain key moments are given emphasis as ghostly figures haunt the stage silently as the plot is propelled forward in another area of the staging. Three television screens are also incorporated into the set: they beam newsreel images of protestors marching, policeman charging, police dogs barking and with the use of sound designer Adam P McCready’s building background noise as well as a loud ticking clock effect being initiated between scenes, the tension was undeniably increased by these choices.

Whilst the staging, sound and lighting effects were impressive, the production was, however, let down by unquestionably wooden acting in places. Whilst actors such as Samuel Oatley, who played Dave, and Nicholas Karimi, who played Gavin, gave convincing and moving performances, other character portrayals were less realistic and reduced the overall effect of the production. For instance, when it is revealed to Mel that her boyfriend of six years is an undercover police officer who has been spying on her and her fellow protestors, Mel’s reaction proves a little underwhelming, especially as this was a key moment in the plot, one anticipated greatly from the off. One exchange that should be noted for its brilliance, however, was Mel’s argument with her sister Abby (Jo Dockery) which proved lively and hilarious. My favourite line from Abby, a character who reminded me greatly of Catherine Tate, was that vegans ‘eat cardboard and lick pebbles.’

Finally, whilst this production is let down by insincere acting, it has its moments of brilliance and Chadwick’s script needs to be recognised for the work it is doing in exploring the police conduct issues we find alive and kicking in today’s press. Therefore, the Nottingham Playhouse’s Any Means Necessary is overall a visually exciting production with a plot brimming with intrigue and suspense; an undeniably insightful and illuminating piece.

For more information on the production which runs until Saturday 20th February, visit the website:






Image Sources:

Photo 1 by Robert Day

Photo 2 by Robert Day

3rd year BA English student at The University of Nottingham (UK), Reviews Editor for Her Campus Nottingham.
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Naomi Upton


Naomi is a third year English student at Nottingham University and Co-Editor in Chief of HC Nottingham. Naomi would love a career in journalism or marketing but for now she spends her time beauty blogging, attempting to master the delicate art of Pinterest, being an all-black-outfit aficionado, wasting time on Buzzfeed, going places, taking pictures and staying groovy.