13 April 2023
Southwark Playhouse Borough
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
The story of Strike! takes us back to 1984, Dublin, Dunne’s Stores. The Irish Distributive and Administrative Union (IDATU) issued a directive to its members to refuse to handle South African products in aid of the fight against Apartheid. Mary Manning is the first worker at a Dunne’s to refuse to ring up a grapefruit, and quickly gets suspended. Quickly her co-workers come to her aid and walk out in unison. They get suspended, and the union advises them to go on strike. What was supposed to only last a couple of weeks turns into an almost three year ordeal in the name of human rights and social change.
The play presents the story of the store workers and their strike stretching over years, during which they were only paid £21 per week strike pay. But the women and one man were undeterred and stood up for what they thought was right, despite the repercussions on their personal lives. With aid from political figures, and a strong belief in the right of Black South Africans to live freely in their own country, the long strike culminated in government action to ban the import South African products, the first such ban in a western country.
With intense acting, beautiful staging, and a lot of personality, Strike! is a brilliant new play that is definitely worth a visit. Touching and emotional, but also encouraging and inspirational, it tells the story with sensitivity and a touch of humour. A wonderful production!