Saturday, July 13

Windrush Warriors – International Anthony Burgess Foundation

When the Windrush scandal began to emerge, the plight of the victims struck a chord because an injustice was being served on people who had already faced discrimination, despite giving so much to the country. Windrush Warriors focuses, not on the scandal itself, but on the real lives of those victims.

It is touching, occasionally emotional and very funny. Just like the beautiful Windrush generation themselves.

Sister Johnson (Jennifer Marvaree-Robinson) arrives at the local community centre in distress, worried she may face deportation. She finds a, largely, sympathetic audience in her fellow pensioner pals from the West Indies and the quartet decide to organise a fightback.

What follows are a set of Vicar of Dibley­ parish council meeting-like conversations as the self-titled Windrush Warriors hatch a plan while reminiscing and gabbing over knitting and dominoes.

The, often hilarious, scenes are interspersed with fourth-wall breaking monologues from writer Nicola Gardner as former air hostess and mud wrestling champion Patience Mensah-Aboagye. Patience has found herself as the manager-slash-receptionist of the community centre.

There’s also a strange, and slightly less successful, plot strand involving white wannabe Rasta caretaker Robbie (Tommy C. Carey).

If that all sounds a bit confusing, it is. The show really takes off when the audience feels like they are eavesdropping on the nattering of four old friends. It flounders a little when it tries to progress the plot too much.

Gardner has written some brilliantly authentic dialogue for her four leads. This is perfectly delivered in brilliant broad accents and comes complete with pitch perfect mannerisms. The dialogue is broken up nicely with some great character-led standup. However, the piece would probably benefit from a shorter, tighter focus on those elements rather than trying to also progress a wider narrative.

There are some nice directorial flourishes from John Klark. The opening poems perfectly set up the story and tone. A final cast song and dance performance is a cute ending.

It is hard not to feel this could have been presented in one act. The show does drag and that isn’t helped by the starkly simple staging of one raised table, albeit a table that is nicely and accurately decorated with props.

The show has returned home to Manchester after a short tour. It opened not long after Windrush Day itself and clearly went down well with the local first night audience. It is a good watch but could put its attention solely on what made its subject matter so powerful: the humanity at the heart of a scandal.

Playing until 29th June 2024. Tickets and more information can be found here: https://www.thewindrushwarriors.com/

Reviewer: Peter Ruddick

Reviewed: 25th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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