Review: “Until the Flood” Unleashes Inner-feelings about Race Relations

 A Limited Engagement Chicago Premiere
April 26 – May 12, 2018 in the Owen

Directed by Neel Keller
Set Design – Takeshi Kata
Lighting Design – Mary Louise Geiger
Costume Design – Kaye Voyce
Sound Design – Justin Ellington
Projection Design – Nick Hussong

From the play’s opening, it is apparent why the one-woman show “Until the Flood” was recently nominated for a 2018 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of an off-Broadway Play.

Currently playing for a limited engagement at the Goodman Theatre, playwright and performer, Dael Orlandersmith, draws from her extensive interviews of Ferguson, Missouri residents in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting to create eight composite characters.  Set in a living room and a barber shop, her characters make you angry, sad and uncomfortable.  You will laugh, cry, and reflect on the state of race in America.Dael Orlandersmith

What stood out the most about the characters in this riveting production was the language was at times harsh but delivered the points well.  Orlandersmith morphs herself into each character.  Throughout the play, the characters would often express thoughts many of us are afraid to say openly.

In the present climate of understanding race relations in this country, “Until the Flood” touches upon subjects that have stood out in many news headlines.

Although, brutally honest and unpredictable we were able to see the various reactions to Michael Brown’s killing and tense race relations in Ferguson.  One of the black teen characters said that he was “just trying to make it to 18” so he can escape town for college. His goal is to get out of there alive.

There were not down points of this play which encourage us to be lifted with hope.

What was very evident to decades of growing tension was the lack of Black people on the Ferguson police force despite the majority of the residents being Black.  In addition to the rising resentment towards a predominately white law enforcement, expressed by African Americans characters was a dismissive attitude by police officers “that blacks should stay in their place”.

The visual of “Until the Flood” onstage setting popped out as we were moved by the memorial in honor of Michael Brown’s memory on Ferguson’s Canfield Avenue.

Orlandersmith’s work stays with you long after you leave the Goodman Theatre.  The more things change the more they stay the same.   This play was captivating and engaging—definitely “a must see”.

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