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(c) Alex Brenner

Until The Flood, Traverse Theatre 2 – review

There are some names that can bring to mind a moment in history, a moment that had the power to send shockwaves into the years following it. Such a name is Michael Brown, an African American shot dead by a white policeman in Ferguson in August 2014. It was an incident that lead to countless protests and questions over police tactics and institutional racism. And it is this incident that defines Until The Flood. Dael Orlandersmith, writer and performer, created Until The Flood from interviews with people connected in different ways to Ferguson, from local residents, police, even people…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

A powerful and thought-provoking play that questions the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the effects it had on the town, its people and race relations throughout America.

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There are some names that can bring to mind a moment in history, a moment that had the power to send shockwaves into the years following it. Such a name is Michael Brown, an African American shot dead by a white policeman in Ferguson in August 2014. It was an incident that lead to countless protests and questions over police tactics and institutional racism. And it is this incident that defines Until The Flood.

Dael Orlandersmith, writer and performer, created Until The Flood from interviews with people connected in different ways to Ferguson, from local residents, police, even people who worked locally. From these she created eight characters, each with their own opinions on the shooting, the effects it had on Ferguson, and the whole issue of race within their country. Each character is given their own time to speak; she avoids the switching between characters, rather she allows each their own scene to talk in solitude about Ferguson, Michael Brown, the effects of racism on their lives. Nothing feels rushed as Orlandersmith slowly morphs from one to the next. The simple act of donning a shawl or picking up a mop the only props needed to suddenly become the old lady or the barber or any of her eight selected characters.

The play also allows the audience space for thought, it doesn’t tell you what is right or wrong, instead it tries to give a balanced view of what is a very complex situation. And in taking that approach it allows the show to gently wash over you until you are taking in by Orlandersmith’s personas and the questions they raise. Maybe most striking is her portrayal of Edna Lewis, a black preacher who tells us everyone is equal in God’s eyes and goes on to demonstrate that prejudices can exist in many forms, with her own mother disowning her because she started a relationship with another woman.

Until The Flood is an emotional exploration of a complex subject, one that sixty minutes of various viewpoints can do little more than scratch the surface. But it’s a fascinating sixty minutes and one that leaves you shaking your head at the sadness of it all, whatever the rights or wrongs may have been.

Written by: Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by: Neel Keller 
Produced by: Arcola Theatre
Booking link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/until-the-flood
Playing until: 26 August 2019, followed by a transfer to Arcola Theatre, London.

About Rob Warren

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Rob accidently ended up working in social housing as a temporary thing. That was ten years ago and hasn't got around to leaving just yet as it fits nicely in with his political views of the world. Started out writing music reviews. Spent many a happy night propping up bars in the back rooms of London's dodgiest music venues. Whilst he is still looking out for the next great band, Rob eventually got into theatre as you get to sit down rather than stand. Theatre was also kinder on the hearing, which had never recovered fully from the last Primal Scream gig he attended. Like his work, Rob tends to like his plays a little social leaning, which probably explains why he struggles to find people to go with him half the time.