Review: Community Service

Community Service is a story inspired by the life of a community hero Trevor Prince. Back in the 1980s Trevor was an aspiring gospel guitarist living in the Birmingham, he went on to become one of the Midland’s first Black Police officers, this brought him into conflict on the streets as well as within his church.

The production company behind Community Service are Stan’s Cafe, based in Birmingham and in fact many of the cast and creatives have links to Trevor, through family or friend connections. This close connection with the main character as well as their own and their family experiences of the period allows the actors to perform with even greater understanding. 

The 1980s saw Britain in a period of unrest, and Trevor is at the heart of this unrest in Thatcher’s Britain. Reisz Amos plays the lead role, Trevor Prince becoming Trevor King for the fictionalised account. 

The piece runs for around two hours and within this time we grow to learn about the conflicts experienced by many immigrant families of that time and their attempts of keeping their traditions while fitting in with a different society.

Trevor wants to change and help to resolve these conflicts for the better within the community, overcoming prejudices not only from the public that he is serving in his job but also amongst his colleagues and family and friends.

Reisz is superb as Trevor, other cast members take on a variety of diverse character roles. Artistic Director, James Yarker has allowed the cast to collaborate on the story to bring in their own experiences, to marvellous effect.

The staging is simple with minimal props and a performance area marked out on the floor much like a tennis court. At first this is a little strange in that actors and the stage manager stand out of the box just observing, but as they step over the line they step into and out of character instantly.

Talking of the stage manager, normally we would expect the person in this role to be dressed in black so as not to stand out, this is not the case in Community Service and in fact by the end of the production you will realise she deserves an applause of her own.

Community Service is beautifully written and performed, a live band provide musical accompaniment much like a film score. Some great choreographed slow motion action, that is almost dance like adds to the overall performance.

Community Service holds no punches, and throughout this roller coster ride you will be smiling and laughing, shocked and crying, but most of all you will discover the story a ground breaking man who without this play would have gone unnoticed.

Stan’s Cafe have produced an excellent production that is worthy of an evening or afternoon at any of the theatres in which it is currently touring and equally deserving of every bit of applause it will receive.

Currently on tour, full details

• Review Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine
• Pictures by Graeme Braidwood

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