Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Until The Flood (Play Review) Until The Flood (Play Review)
Until The Flood (Play Review)

The lead up to the shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown Jr, an 18 year African-American by Darren Wilson a 28-year-old white officer in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, the ensuing nationwide civic disturbances that followed and the non-indictment of Wilson has been well documented.



Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith, absorbing new play ‘Until the Flood’ seeks to go behind the sensationalism to reveal the thoughts and opinions of the people of the city who all in some way were affected by this tragedy.


Six months after the incident Orlander Smith interviewed a variety of residents to canvass their t thoughts on race, the police and the society they live in. We hear some of these voices.


At the start playing against the brick back wall at the back of the stage is a recording from the police dispatcher of the moments following Michael Brown’s theft of a box of cigars. We hear several other recordings of the pursuit in progress all designed to build in our minds the tension and the fast-moving nature of the incident which would have required split-second decision making.


The race, age and background of the individual flash in response to the tragic outcome is also flashed on the wall before we hear each voice helping us put it viewpoint in context.


We hear from a white policeman who describes himself and ‘pro-white’ but not ‘anti-black’. Even though he believes that there are good and bad cops, he’s judgement is clouded by the belief that every cop is a ‘brother’ and therefore should be protected.


Other voices revealed a mix of emotions and viewpoints. Some believe that the incident wouldn’t have occurred if Michael Brown and his like had better role models and a sense of purpose in their lives as a lack of these is what probably helps them to be angry and hate-filled.


Others like Reuben, a black male in his 60s were more reflective. Stating that Black people didn’t want special treatment but just to be treated fairly within the justice system and that he felt the system wasn’t telling the full truth about this and many other examples of the police killing of black people.


We also heard other polarising views, such as a deeply racist white electrician, who raised himself from poverty to achievement and expected everyone else to do so. It was visibly clear he had little respect for black people and was of the unshaken belief that Darren Wilson was innocent.


What was fascinating was Orlandersmith’s ability to fully convey the emotions, nuances, and mannerisms of all the characters she plays by simply sitting down or standing Her ability to draw us quickly and seamlessly into each personality displayed a piece of first-rate acting.



High praise must also go to director Neel Keller, who manages to extract from Orlandersmith a quiet, yet graceful steely strength that resonates throughout each voice.



Set designer Takeshi Kata’s reproduction of the memorial that sprang up in the street following the shooting are both haunting and imaginative, this along with a blurred image of Michel himself, helped to transmit the sense of shock and sadness that must have reverberated through the whole community.


Overall, Orlandersmith gives a tremendous and exquisite performance, by directing the audience attention to the words of each character, guiding us in her own subtle way to come to our own conclusions of that fateful night.


Until the Flood, Till 28 Sept, Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL, Tickets and details https://www.arcolatheatre.com/whats-on/until-the-flood/

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