One Way Out

Winner of the 2023 Edinburgh Untapped Award, One Way Out is a powerful exploration of the injustices suffered by the Windrush generation, through the lens of four boys from South London.

Bounding with unmitigated energy and cheeky sensibilities

Written by Montel Douglas, One Way Out bounds with unmitigated energy and never feels overly sentimental thanks to fun dramatic choices that showcase a love of grime, video games and girls.

A fair number of laugh-out-loud moments help the heavy stuff to land with greater impact. Just when we get comfortable with the group’s brash humour and cheeky sensibilities, we get thrown into adulthood and the harsh realities of Windrush through Devonte’s story.

The performance is well paced and delivered, with an infectious energy that sees us root for the four boys as they dance, flirt and teeth-suck their way through their last year of college. Just as their energy is infectious, their sense of helplessness is too.

Though many people have heard of the Windrush scandal, its reach is downplayed. HMT Empire Windrush carried over 1,000 Caribbean legal migrants to the UK to help fill post-war labour shortages, a symbol for the migration of over 524,000 Commonwealth migrants who entered the UK up until 1971.

The failure of authorities to properly record passenger details from 1948 to 1971 came to light in 2018, resulting in forced deportation rather than an admission of wrongdoing on behalf of government.

In One Way Out, Devonte undergoes this same fate, having to leave behind his mother who has kidney failure, his family and friends to ‘return’ to Jamaica.

Produced by Theatre Peckham, an established community theatre promoting young voices and striving for social change, Douglas' play spells out the issue a little obviously, but with empathetic performances across the board.

Despite a lack of control over their fates, the boys share a feeling of optimism, exaggerated through innocent friendships and ambitions to go into business, magic and the family trade.

And while the ending seems to fade out without an ample conclusion, this feels more like a dramatic choice to acknowledge the lack of justice for Windrush victims.

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Reviews by Laura Tucker

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The Blurb

‘Can we determine our fate? Or is there only one way out?’ Theatre Peckham’s first resident company present this powerful drama exploring young British Caribbeans' experiences of the Windrush crisis. Four friends stand on the cusp of adulthood, with ambitious goals ahead. As they take their first steps towards independence, a world-shattering event turns Devonte’s life upside down. Forced to make decisions that may destroy their brotherhood as they know it, the young men must decide to follow the paths laid out for them or step off to help their friend in sudden need.

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