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BWW Review: UNTIL THE FLOOD at Studio Theatre

It is the kind of play that makes viewers want to implement the justice and racial amity it so calls out for.

BWW Review: UNTIL THE FLOOD at Studio Theatre
L-R Billie Krishawn, Ora Jones, and Felicia Curry in Studio Theatre's streaming production of Until the Flood.
Photo courtesy of Studio Theatre. Video Production by Studiio Box DC.

DC's Studio Theatre is known as a leading contemporary theater, and the subject matter of its current production can scarcely be more so.

Inspired by the police killing of young Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Mo., and based on dozens of interviews conducted in its aftermath across the city's communities by playwright Dael Orlandersmith, Under the Flood goes beyond any specific such shooting to explore African American-White relations on a much-broader and emotionally charged scale. The anger and mistrust, the occasional ties of friendship. Personal success and failure amidst social upheaval.

It is the kind of play that makes one want to read as well as see it, and see it multiple times. It is the kind of play that makes viewers want to implement the justice and racial amity it so calls out for.

Orlandersmith wrote the work as a solo play, which was commissioned by and premiered at the St. Louis Rep in 2016. Studio's associate artistic director Reginald L. Douglas, at the helm of the production, has reimagined it it with a cross-generational ensemble of three Black women. The actors play across race as well as gender, their voices sometimes blending into each other in a manner that builds up tension and expectation.

The ensemble is comprised of Ora Jones, Billie Krishawn, and Felicia Curry, who bring their characters to life with power and passion. Unlike some theatrical works in which actors play multiple roles with the help of even-subtle costume changes, Jones, Krishawn, and Curry rely primarily on alterations of voice and posture on a largely dark stage.

We never know the names of these characters, who also cross socioeconomic lines.

Socially distanced in a theater devoid of audience members, the actors seem to bridge the physical chasm between them - in part because of Douglas's direction.

The creative team for Under the Flood consists of Wes Culwell, director of video; Jesse Belsky, lighting designer; Elisheba Ittoop, sound designer; Adrien-Alice Hansel, dramaturg; and Autumn J. Mitchell, stage manager.

Running Time: 80 minutes.

Ticket holders can stream immediately or watch anytime demand until the production closes on May 9.

Tickets are available by calling the box office at 202-332-3300 or by clicking here. Once you've pressed "play," you have 48 hour to finish viewing the production.

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