Paul T Davies reviews Until The Flood, written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.
Missouri 2014. Michael Brown, a black teenager, is shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. Based on interviews given in the aftermath of the shooting, Dael Orlandersmith writes and performs her play, presenting not just a range of commentary, but confronting history, race and politics in modern America.
The play is beautifully performed by Orlandersmith, moving with expert observation from one character to the next. The play is framed by Louisa, a black, early seventies, retired school teacher, but the play features characters from both sides of the racial divide. Orlandersmith is equally convincing as Rusty, a white, retired policeman, Hassan, a 17-year-old street kid, and Dougray, a racist landowner and electrician, whose words will chill you. Hope is in the form of minister Edna, a beautiful and inspiring person.
In using this one event, Orlandersmith dissects an all too familiar scene, with a love of guns and racism from all sides running through the text, but condemns the situation rather than the person. The design by Takeshi Kata and the video design by Nicholas Hussong create an affecting atmosphere that supports this powerful storytelling. I was held throughout the whole performance, and the memorial created is for all lives lost in this way.