Simon Naylor and his merry band of brothers (and sisters) are creating a bit of a fuss down at this new venue in city centre Manchester. Under the arches of the railway lines, deep within a closed-down luxury car warehouse, there are different sorts of luxury products for sale: truth and art.

The people behind Manchester Actor’s Platform (MAP) are putting on challenging and engaging theatre, and there is a lot to praise here. When Both Sides Surrender is a verse play in the style of Shakespeare, written by poet Scott Devon. The piece is inspired by the true events of the 2011 riots and analyses the consequences by delving deep into both sides; the side of the police and the side of those in the thick of the drama – the rioters themselves. It’s an interesting premise and one which has often been discussed. The use of language is innovative, and Devon’s attention to detail as well his nod to the Bard is astonishing.

dsc_3269_fotorDirector Lawrence Evans pushes the actors and the material to their limits with stylish direction which, at times, feels like an onslaught of the senses. Riot sounds are pumped into the theatre, actors appear from every corner of the space, and clever design by Richard Cooper makes the piece feel dangerous and unnerving. The performers themselves do an excellent job with not a note wrong from the nine on-stage, as well as the others who appear on screen. Multi-media is de rigueur these days and although it forms a valuable part of the story, it’s a tad over long here.

The production is commendable, ambitious and well put together. It runs at a little over 90 minutes and, as an age-old story of the art of war and the effects of conflict, it portrays the message that, ultimately, there are no winners in combat. The show is over for now but I’m sure we will see more from the team and from the writer.

The production values are high and it shows what can be achieved in this city with a little imagination and a lot of guts. MAP is on the map and so is 53Two. Go and check out their shows and support new talent.

By Lucia Cox

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