The first section gives space to the ever present, fifteen strong cast of BAME actors, fully embodying their emotionally penetrating monologues, duologues and trialogues, which span the Atlantic Ocean. Elders and youngsters deliver blows to each other on exactly what change means and how to make a lasting impact. Conversations repeat and morph through different characters and genders, asking the audience to question the power these words have when spoken by different identities. A particular highlight is the zealous, spitting direct address from a highflying student of science and maths (Kayla Meikle) who describes in microscopic detail the malicious use of tear gas on a peaceful protest in the US.
In contrast to the mosaic of voices in the first section, the second part centres on two characters' nonstop battle of ideas. The scale of the argument shrinks, but is no less poignant. The audience become a fly on the wall, observing a vehement debate on the motivations behind US school shootings from a Caucasian psychology professor (played by the only white cast member Demetri Goritsas), characterised as the epitome of a cis-gendered privileged man; his opponent is an indomitable and unrelenting African American student (Lashana Lynch) intent on changing her professor’s inflexible perspective.
The third section is a series of video entries where an American Caucasian cast of actors and non-actors speak directly to camera, plainly stating the savage Jim Crow Laws. The UK doesn’t come away unscathed, with Caucasian UK actors and non-actors neutrally declaring the Jamaican slave codes the British imposed on the island.
The recurring symbol of hands and the power to weld them weaves itself throughout the piece. Arguments from despairing parents with their young sons about how police officers will interpret minute hand gesticulations are repeated, both in a US and UK context. The psychology student mocks her infuriating professor, parroting his hand movements without his knowledge as his lone voice drones incessantly on.
While the black characters are intensely aware of the perceived violence projected onto their hands, in the video section the camera focuses on a multitude of white hands, the ever-present suggestion of aggression in their micro-movements enlarged and exposed, returning this allegation.
The final words of the play are given to a fierce young
African American on the verge of violence. ’Give me one reason to not’ ring out
in the auditorium. Given everything we have seen, it is hard not to sympathise
with his reasoning. This is piercing political work, the wounds open and raw,
and tucker green doesn’t let us look away.
|What||Review: ear for eye, Royal Court Theatre|
|Where||Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
25 Oct 18 – 24 Nov 18, Monday - Saturday 19:30, Thursday & Saturday matinees 14:30 (from 3 Nov)
|Price||£12 - £49|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|