Until the Flood @ Traverse Theatre

A much-needed post-Ferguson dialogue, Until the Flood is anchored by an incredible set of performances from Dael Orlandersmith

Review by Dominic Corr | 06 Aug 2019
  • Until the Flood

Ripples of atrocities do not fade; instead they gradually gain momentum with time. We may never know the full story of the death of Michael Brown, a young man shot 12 times by police officer Darren Wilson, two days before enrolling in college. As one may suspect, Wilson was white; Brown, a young black man.

Dael Orlandersmith's one-woman show Until The Flood is based upon the accounts of eight people from St. Louis of differing ages, genders and race, in response to the shooting. The production seeks not to answer, accuse or victimise, but to open some desperately needed dialogues.

For five, maybe seven minutes at a time, we do not see Orlandersmith. The metamorphosis she achieves in her performances as these eight characters is mesmerising – so powerful that we drop the realisation of who she is, and witness who she can become. Her brilliance lies in her conviction to the role; accents change slightly, as do mannerisms and movements. There's no doubt that the show's success also lies with Neel Keller's direction, helping bring a specific physicality to each character. 

Until the Flood recognises its focus is on performative storytelling. What set-pieces are present only reinforce the harrowing emotion of Orlandersmith’s characterisation: wreaths and plaques from supporters, candles which flicker into existence. These soft, delicate props never distract, only serving to reinforce the atmosphere. It’s a testament to the talents a designer such as Takeshi Kata can achieve.

You’ll leave angry. You’ll leave perplexed. More importantly, the show's 98% white, middle-class audience will leave with uncomfortable questions.

Until the FloodTraverse Theatre (Traverse 2), until 25 Aug (not 12 or 19), various times, £15.50-21