Quiet Rebels confronts our reality and imagines a future that scares us with its possibility. Set in 2028, Quiet Rebels introduces us to a dystopian world divided by race and prejudice. It pays homage to the wives of men from the Windrush generation who suffered for the right to be with those they loved.
Detective Shade investigates the murder of one such woman, who died fighting for equality. As Shade investigates, we uncover the malicious workings of the conservative government, underground resistance and secrets about Detective Shade herself.
I spoke with co-writer, co-director and cast-member Hassan Mahamdallie, who described how he comes from a mixed heritage background himself and how the rest of the cast all have personal attachments to the story they’re telling. As an audience member, it is hard not to find yourself relating to one aspect or another. A story of institutionalised British racism, hostile governments, with references to Covid feels uncomfortably familiar.
The play aims to be as inclusive as possible, particularly towards the deaf community. The entire performance is either captioned through text shown behind the actors or a British Sign Language translator projected onto the set. This is with the help of leading disability tech company Vital exposure.
The use of captions integrates smoothly with the images and videos projected alongside them, making for an easy to enjoy experience. The play begins with videos of real interviews from women who married outside their race. These beautifully moving yet playful videos help set the scene, and their incorporation into the dialogue helps drive home the realism of the play.
I was particularly moved by the use of descriptive imagery and photography in a scene where Detective Shade is recalls her past. The music especially helps build tension in one of the most notable scenes near the end of the play set in Shade’s childhood home in Liverpool. During the play, we learn the North is an area of safety for those who were cast out and oppressed by a racist Prime Minister and his regime.
Mahamdallie told me that inclusivity and “creative access” should be “the standard for British theatre, and we’ve got a lot of catching up to do”. Alongside the captioning and interpreter, the music has been designed in conjunction with an organisation called Deaf Rave, who create musical experiences for the deaf community. There is also an audio description of the play which can be downloaded in some venues.
Expect the unexpected in Quiet Rebels. Mahamdallie told me, “I want to challenge their [the audience’s] view of the world, and I want to, in some senses, make them uncomfortable”.
Deni Francis, who plays Detective Shade, definitely makes this a show worth seeing. Alongside her, Joe Conteh, who plays Jamal and Michael, was a favourite of mine to watch.
I enjoyed the futuristic feel of the show, and I wish more plays included captioning and authentic photos. As a history student, I enjoyed the references to real-life stories of the past and the role it played in spotlighting stories which are often forgotten by history, such as the family members who were oppressed alongside men of the Windrush generation.
Overall, Quiet Rebels was an intriguing yet daunting look into Britain’s future through a dystopian lens.
Mahamdallie references a quote by Mark Twain, which I think summarises what to expect from Quiet Rebels: “History never repeats itself. But it often rhymes”.