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Ian Waller and his family enjoy a piece of faultless theatre at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory

Sometimes, just sometimes, you get to enjoy a piece of theatre that is practically perfect, with a strong story, great direction and a fantastic cast. Well, get yourself a ticket to Community Service, currently playing at the Tobacco Factory Theatres, because quite simply, it’s too good to miss.

The story follows Trevor Prince, one of the Midland’s first black police officers, who faces conflict on the streets of 1980’s Britain as well as a keen desire to bring harmony and love to the families and people he lives with and serves. The result is a incredibly creative play bringing together the topics of race, family, religion, forgiveness and community with wonderful talent and imagination.

We first meet Trevor, played with real affection and skill by Reisz Amos, as a young boy under the firm hand of his mother and part of a tight, church-going family taught to follow the rules of home and God. While Trevor’s decision to join the police is supported with great pride by his family, he soon encounters countless examples of casual and institutional racism that might have put a weaker man down.

But Trevor is strong and focused on what he knows is right. Even against a background of social unrest in the forms of riots and racism that came to be trademark of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, Trevor knows his path and is determined to follow it.

Around Amos, this is a wonderfully strong cast, with many taking on several different rules with a skill and craftsmanship that is impossible not to admire. Kianyah Caesar-Downer as Trevor’s mum is equally engaging and terrifying, Yasmin Dawes brings such depth to the character of Marcia, Tinashe Darikwa is just sublime in the many roles of Clive, Ken and best of all, the hilarious Pastor, while Dominic Thompson excels in multiple roles, most notably as Trevor’s on-the beat police colleague.

Throughout the story is backed up by a live band – Ashleigh Hepburn on drums, Jamael Jarrett on keyboards and CJ Thompson on bass – which brings an extra element of presence and energy to the production.

Throughout the evening, Community Service provides genuinely powerful drama, clever comedy and most of all a window on a time, place and community that will be unknown to many in the audience. Most of all, however, this is a play about the importance of family and community, and the strength that is sometimes needed to take the right path.

All in all, I can’t recommend Community Service enough – just a great piece of theatre.

Community Service is playing at the Tobacco Factory Theatres until 27 April. For more information and to book tickets, go to