WRITER: ROY WILLIAMS
DIRECTOR: PAULETTE RANDALL
CAST: ROSIE DAY; EHTAN HAZZARD; TREVOR LAIRD; SUZETTE LLEWELLYN; YASMIN MWANZA; CHERRELLE SKEETE
HAMPSTEAD THEATRE NW3
RUNNING UNTIL 23 JULY 2022
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR
Written by Roy Williams OBE whose play Death of England: Delroy reopened the National Theatre in 2020 after the pandemic, The Fellowship draws on the lives of the children of the Windrush generation who arrived from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971. Described as a three generational play, The Fellowship centres on two sisters, Dawn (Cherrelle Skeete) and Marci (Suzette Llewellyn) who have come together during the last days of their mother’s life, after a lengthy and acrimonious separation. Both women, now middle-aged, were young in the 70s and 80s and part of the race riots in Brixton and Tottenham at the time. The Fellowship teases out their history, unleashing a litany of resentments and a scattering of fond memories.
Effectively, Williams brings to the stage the political turmoil of the riot years when fundamental rights for Black people in the UK were being forged and Black British children, born and bred, were invariably treated like outsiders. Williams’ voice is strongest here. Previous and post generations are sketched. The mother (a delightful apparition) comes across as hearsay. And it’s hard to believe teenagers would join a Boy George groove at the command of an overused Alexa.
Photos: Ethan Hazzard & Rosie Day; Yasmin Mwanza; Ethan Hazzard & Trevor Laird
Dawn as the lead protagonist is the most enraged character. Her anger, underlined by the death of one of her sons (a racially motivated crime), is far-reaching. She is furious with her cheating partner, her strict mother and her remaining son and his white girlfriend. Her anger is fuelled by scorn for Marci’s “white privilege”, her law career and her relationship with a politician called Giles, a backstory stereotype who represents white establishment as an abject toff. Mixed race relationships come off poorly in The Fellowship and references to race and gender can lack nuance from the mouths of fifty somethings despite the contemporary London setting and objections from the younger characters.
Amidst the lengthy maelstrom, the sisters’ stories are absorbing and humorous. Commendation must be given to Cherrelle Skeete who stepped in at the last minute in a tricky role which largely requires venting rage whilst remaining likeable. She is easily matched in performance by Suzette Llewellyn and a cast of skilled actors who bring their roles to the stage with appeal.
Box Office: 020 7722 9301 (Mon – Sat 10.30am - 7pm) | hampsteadtheatre.com