A Few Man Fridays

3 out of 5 stars
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© Alastair Muir A Few Man Fridays

Here's a shocking tale. In the late 1960s, the British forcibly evicted the people of Diego Garcia in order to make way for an American base. Apart from having no choice in the matter, the 1500 or so inhabitants were given inadequate compensation and dumped in a slum in Mauritius. Some even ended up in Crawley.

It's an appalling account of British highhandedness and in some ways a perfect story to be told by those champions of the oppressed, Cardboard Citizens. Playwright and director Adrian Jackson has created an odd mélange of fact and fiction, interweaving the moving testimonies of the ex-islanders and accounts of political duplicity with a fictional story about Prosper (Ansu Kabia), who came from Diego Garcia to London as a baby, and whose mental health is affected by his lack of roots.

The devastation carries on through the generations. The case is made more complicated by the fact that the sea around the islands has recently been made into a Marine Protection Area. Symbolically, Jackson's conservationist suffers from an inability to recognise faces.

For all its good intentions, there are serious problems with the production: the first half hour is confusing; several extraneous scenes could be cut; and there are technical problems to be resolved. Clearly a huge injustice has been perpetrated but Jackson and his company have yet to discover the best way to expose it.

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