Close this search box.

Review: Pornography at 53two is ‘riveting, complex and dark’

Matthew Heywood's gripping portrayal of a troubled suicide bomber and Isabel Ford's complex widow character will leave you in awe.

Dive into the compelling dynamics of siblings, student-teacher relationships, and a self-sabotaging mother, all expertly brought to life in this riveting play.

Pornography, written by Simon Stephens is a dark, gritty play, spotlighting the lives of 8 people in London at a time of momentous excitement – and horror.

It focuses on individuals living through the awarding of the 2012 Olympics, swiftly followed by the 7/7 bombings in the capital, showcasing the crash from euphoria to chaos.

Matthew Heywood brilliantly orchestrates the journey made by one suicide bomber in the 7/7 series of attacks.

It is not said outright, but we pick up details of his character throughout his monologues and suspicions are sealed when he mentions the fateful backpack on a busy tube carriage.

Heywood provides a speculated insight into the mind of his character, depicting a person battling a schizophrenic-like illness, which Heywood does respectably and powerfully.

Isabel Ford: A Complicated Widow

Isabel Ford portrays the widow that we can’t help but have compassion for.

Her hatred of interaction with other people but her desperation for human contact is a complicated contradiction that is beautifully presented and undeniably relatable.

Ford is incredibly talented, bringing the contractions to the surface and creating a well-rounded character.

Sibling Dynamics by Frankie Lipman and George Miller

Frankie Lipman and George Miller are siblings within the play, and while their character arcs together could be seen as unnatural and uncomfortable, their talent in making it believable is testimony to their skill of the craft.

It would not be half as uncomfortable if they weren’t so believable!

The Evolution of the Student/Teacher Relationship

John Joyce-O’Keefe and Imogen Khan have the former student/teacher dynamic which begins with a charming conversation but escalates again into something vicious and violent, wherein the audience’s feelings towards Joyce-O’Keefe’s character drastically turn.

Kim Burnett: The Self-Sabotaging Mother

Kim Burnett gives us the self-sabotaging mother, whose need for control within her life gets so out of hand that she is driven to act in violation of the office code of conduct, but Burnett’s portrayal is so convincing that we can’t blame her.

We can understand, somehow, why she does it.

Isaac Radmore: The Troubled Schoolboy

Last, but not least, Isaac Radmore is a troubled schoolboy.

We follow his thoughts in and out of the classroom, believing to be seeing the start of a crush on another student that he may be taking a bit far – until there is a twist of events and the audience realises what is happening is far more inappropriate and sinister to what we are first led to believe.

Radmore’s work with this character is clever because you start to understand that his mind sees no issue, generating sympathy for this boy.

Pornography is on until the 30th of September at 53Two, and you can get your tickets here

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.