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Review: Until the Flood at Arcola Theatre

An award-winning triumph in Edinburgh, Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show is a tour de force

12 September, 2019 — By Angela Cobbinah

Dael Orlandersmith in Until the Flood. Photo: Alex Brenner

Shining a light on a dark side of America, Dael Orlandersmith’s solo tour de force is based on the interviews she conducted six months after an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot dead on the streets of Ferguson by white police officer Darren Wilson in 2014.

Five years down the line, the story will be familiar to most because of the protests that followed the incident and Wilson’s acquittal, and the depressing spate of similar killings that have gone on since then.

Just down from its award-winning triumph at the Edinburgh Festival, the drama does not preoccupy itself with the details of the tragedy, save for the recording of the bland conversation between police dispatchers about a young man being seen with a box of stolen cigars. Instead, it confronts the ugly legacy of race in the US through a series of characters brought to life by Orlandersmith.

Over the course of 70 minutes, she manages to seamlessly shift from one to other, be it a black teenager enraged as much by his deadbeat father as he is by police harassment, or the white teacher lamenting the loss of a black friend after she attempted to see both sides of the story.

Most chilling is the folksy self-made businessman who suddenly asks: “If America is so bad why do so many people want to come and live here?”, before giving his white supremacist take on the incident.

Compelling but ultimately bleak.

Until September 28
020 7503 1646

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