“I’m sick of it, sis. I can’t breathe here…They look at you like you’re worthless. They make you stand there and wait like you’re some kind of reprobate or something. Like you’re shit on the sole of their shoe.”
The Strays opens with Cheryl, stressed and crying out of frustration and anger, down the phone to her sister. Her woes sound familiar; a job that does not appreciate her, debt that it’s hard to get a grip on, the grinding tear of systematic racism.
Many of us have lived through or currently live in similar situations, and what can one do but cry and vent? Well, Cheryl takes the road less travelled, but often dreamt of. She picks up and runs away.
Hundreds of miles away, in a modelesque town in the English countryside, we meet Cheryl again. But now she’s called Neve. She talks with a middle class accent and mimics her neighbour’s morning greeting in the mirror as she brushes her wig into place. When she delivers it a few moments later, it is pitch perfect.
But a story with a messy beginning such as this one is not fated to end well, and Neve’s idyllic life and fragile facade are smashed to pieces when two strangers – two black strangers – show up in town.