Entertainment, Manchester, Review

Review: When Both Sides Surrender at 53two, Manchester

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By Hannah Lewis

Hidden away in two of Deansgate’s tunnels is Manchester’s newest arts venue, 53two. When Both Sides Surrender, written by Scott Devon and directed by Lawrence Evans, is the first full-length play to be shown in this venue, and it fits into its surroundings perfectly. The first thing you see as you go to take your seat is an abandoned car, empty beer cans and an old park bench. The scene is set.

This play is set in the middle of riots in the city, where a black boy has been shot, but the debate continues as to whether he had been armed or not. One side of the story is told by the Winter brothers, played by Darren Jeffries and Simon Naylor, who wish to take back control of their territory from the police. On the other hand, the Senior Police Officer, played by Andrew Readman, fights to remain in control his emotions after a personal tragedy while trying to deal with the rising situation in a lawful manner, although some of his inferiors may not agree.

The language used throughout the play is intriguing and has been written in a style described as ‘Shakespeare meets A Clockwork Orange’. Although the language sits quite well with the police force, it is refreshing to hear this sort of verse come out of the mouths of tracksuit-wearing youths. The juxtaposition between the two ideas makes the audience take them more seriously perhaps and also makes them question why this is.


All of the cast do a fantastic job, with many of them jumping between being part of the youth gang and part of the police squadron. Andrew Readman’s performance stands out as he constantly battles between his own grief and the need to perform his job as he sees fit. Simon Naylor and Darren Jeffries as the Winter Bothers do an excellent job, and the bond between them is clear for all to see.

The direction allows the audience to be encapsulated into the play, with smashed bottles, gun shots and cast running up and down the aisle. The use of media intertwined with live acting is another touch that makes the audience sit up and listen, as it hints at the fact that the truth is distorted by the police and the press. Fleeting comedic moments, such as the reference to the globally known song Gangnam Style, give the audience brief moments to recuperate before they are plunged back into the tense drama unfolding before them.

All in all, a fantastically gripping play that left the audience feeling like they had gone through an emotional rollercoaster, in a very good way.

Hannah is a third year history student who enjoys reading, baking and jogging. Visit Hannah’s blog at hannahlouiselewis.wordpress.com

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