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REVIEW: 'They Don't Really Care About Us' By 4AM Productions Blends Genres With An Impactful Story & Superb Casting

REVIEW: 'They Don't Really Care About Us' At Hope Street Theatre — 4AM Productions Has Crafted A Dramatic Story, Blending An Amalgamation Of Contrasting Genres To Produce An Excellent Piece Of Meaningful Theatre

The cast of 'They Don't Really Care About Us' speaking in the Q&A Session after the show (Credit: The Liverpudlian/This image is an original piece of work by The Liverpudlian Team).
The cast of 'They Don't Really Care About Us' speaking in the Q&A Session after the show (Credit: The Liverpudlian/This image is an original piece of work by The Liverpudlian Team).

Sab Muthusamy & Rachel Louise Clark's 'They Don't Really Care About Us' graced Hope Street Theatre with a dramatic and gritty crime thriller that offered a creative and genre-bending approach on conveying racial injustice.


Set in Liverpool in 1997, the story begins with Vanessa Campbell, a young woman that has earned almost overnight success as a poet after the debut release of her book featuring a compilation of her works. Enjoying her achievements, and with a second book in the works nothing can seemingly go wrong. During an exciting return home she visits her family and is set to be the focus of a Q&A Book Signing Event in town. Her close friends, Dinesh Sharma, George Taylor and Sarah Watson, alongside her family join her for the event. When celebrating afterwards at a friend's house party, Vanessa is brutally murdered. With all fingers pointing at her close friend Dinesh as the murderer, is he being used as a scapegoat by his friends who committed the crime, could it be racially motived due to his Indian background with the police wanting an open and shut case, or could it be because he actually committed the atrocious murder?


Well written and as discussed in the effective post-show Questions & Answers session, the production process was very aware of portraying a realistic and effective story. Ensuring that people's tragic experiences, including those that Co-Director, Sab, has personally experienced, are demonstrated as a well rounded and authentic depiction of societal injustices.


The production depicts the struggles that many people can face on a regular basis. From unfair stop and searches without cause to verbal abuse and casual racial discrimination. The impactful use of both conscious and unconscious prejudice and discrimination, enacted by various characters in the story cleverly conveys that not everything is always as obvious and clear cut as things may initially seem.


With the show's name drawing inspiration from the well known Michael Jackson song, 'They Don't Care About Us', Actor & Co-Director, Sab, spoke about some of his influences regarding the play. He said: 'I actually wrote a dissertation on racial profiling and discrimination by the police and the Stephen Lawrence case was a huge part of that. Whilst doing the research I always had the idea of a story that involved racial discrimination by authority figures and wanted to explore that. It’s amazing that I can now use that research and channel it into this production, it’s almost like I’ve come full circle!'

'I actually wrote a dissertation on racial profiling and discrimination by the police and the Stephen Lawrence case was a huge part of that.' - Sab Muthusamy, Actor & Co-Director.

Something else of note was the use of lighting and audio. It is said in the media industry that audio can make up half of the experience, and this show was successful in doing just that. A clear, audible cast, with impactful sound effects and music interspersed in meaningful scenes that only enriched and added value to the story being told.


Lighting played a significant role in the production in which its use not only added to the atmosphere but in its own right told a story of the harrowing depths of despair that some of the characters can face. In what was often a bare stage, it was marvelous how well the show set the imagination alight through the combination of an excellent use of lighting, audio and a superb cast that have clearly worked closely and passionately with the trio of directors.


I particularly liked how this story was so well embedded into Liverpool. It grounded the play into reality and created a genuine sense of self. It was fantastic to see a cast of three-dimensional characters with fully fleshed out lives and back stories. The protagonist's life story unfolding in an organic way, being naturally sown throughout the performance made him a vivid and fuller protagonist; from his upbringing in Dingle to studying at the University of Liverpool, through to the cast keeping their Liverpudlian Accents and the subtle use of slang, not to mention the name-dropping of local places.


Irregardless of whether this play is watched by a local or someone unfamiliar with Liverpool, it tells the story well with rich layers. All forming a brilliant tapestry of characters, their complicated lives and how they deal with grief.


The cast of 13 all deserve praise for portraying a collection of realist and interesting characters that vividly brought this play to life.


Whilst this is a story about race, prejudice, discrimination, and systematic racism both in society and in organisations such as the police. It was carefully weaved so that it was not just occuring in a vacuum. As previously discussed, it is embedded in Liverpool and drenched in authenticity through real life experiences. The genre-blending approach also offers for an opportunity to be able to appeal to a wider audience that may not otherwise consider watching a theatrical crime drama centred around racial issues as complex and difficult as the ones that 4AM is tackling head on here. Blending the crima drama story with the genres of horror, thriller and romantic drama really made this piece both somewhat more accessible to a more mainstream audience but also enabled for the story to take twists that you couldn not have imagined in than that of a traditional crime drama.


Without giving away any major spoilers, the play gave vibes of Scream and The Purge with the horrors that unfold, whilst at times easily landing in the territory of an upbeat Liverpudlian sitcom filled with the comedy of everyday family life. These varying genres and tones mixed together created a really distinctive piece that was a joy to become immersed in. However, when things take dark turns, and the crime drama elements really kick in, 'They Don't Really Care About Us' can quickly become a tough yet necessary watch.

Set in Liverpool in 1997, the story Vanessa Campbell, a young woman is as overnight success as a poet after the debut release of her book featuring a complication of her works, after which she is brutally murdered, but why? And by who? (Credit: The Liverpudlian/This image is an original piece of work by The Liverpudlian Team).


This brand new stageplay saw a three-night run on Hope Street, with Co-Director, Sab Muthusamy, speaking in the post-show Q&A about there being a future for 'They Don't Really Care About Us' which is only good news, as the packed out auditorium and standing ovation spoke of the merit of this piece of theatre, and the more people that can see for themselves 4AM's impactfultheatrical works, the better.

'The impactful use of both conscious and unconscious prejudice and discrimination, enacted by various characters in the story cleverly conveys that not everything is always as obvious and clear cut as things may initially seem.' - The Liverpudlian.

The first run of the play took place at Hope Street Theatre from Thursday the 30th of May through to Saturday the 1st of June 2024 in Liverpool City Centre, performing live to a sold-out theatre. 'They Don't Really Care About Us' was Directed by Sab Muthusamy, Rachel Louise Clark, and George Fragakis. Starring Sab Muthusamy as Dinesh Sharma, Nina Price as Vanessa Campbell, Hannah Kidman as DI Hannah Brindle, Leonisha Barley as Sefor Amimbola, Paul Philip Ryan as George Taylor, Madeleine Lloyd Jones as Sarah Watson, Phil Halfpenny as Edward 'The Bastard' Manson, Kru Lundy as CDI Josh Miller, alongside Abi Tyrer, Lisa Mogan, Alan Kenny and Sundha Rajavelu.

They Don't Really Care About Us conveyed crucial messages in a direct yet tactcful way that was thoughtful and considered, making the work carry an even more impactful punch, earning itself 5 Liver Birds out of 5.

'They Don't Really Care About Us' conveyed crucial messages in a direct yet tactcful way that was thoughtful and considered, making the work carry an even more impactful punch, earning itself 5 Liver Birds out of 5.


We highly encourage you to see 'They Don't Really Care About Us' if 4AM are able to complete another run of shows, and we look forward to seeing their future plans realised.

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