New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

Until the Flood

From 15 critic and 23 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Intelligent, Resonant

About the show

Alumni writer Dael Orlandersmith returns to Rattlestick as writer and performer of this solo-play, written in response to Michael Brown’s death. More…

After interviewing scores of St. Louis residents, Orlandersmith plays many faces and voices based on the life of the region. 'Until the Flood' offers a mosaic of voices within this community, where one viewpoint is not held above others.

1h 10m | Already closed | Rattlestick Theatre (West Village)

Lighting & Sound America

"’Until the Flood’ is compact and hard-hitting...Orlandersmith is a brilliant listener...adding to the impact of each vignette is her skill at transforming herself into each of the speakers at a moment's notice...This brief, fast-moving piece maintains its grip from first to last, thanks to Orlandersmith's riveting work and Keller's tight direction...A brave and powerful testament that holds up a devastating mirror to our tribalized society.” Full Review


"Searing, bleak, and vividly performed...It’s a powerfully well-balanced examination of race relations in the United States with hopeless conclusions...Orlandersmith skillfully organizes the material into short monologues that are revelatory, insightful and often tinged with humor...Varying her vocal inflections and altering her physiognomy she conveys the essence of each individual. It’s a riveting performance of range and depth...Theatrical, gripping, and pessimistic." Full Review

The New York Times

“Brings the questions, the pain and even the unspeakable thoughts of hundreds, if not millions, to life. ‘Until the Flood’ is an urgent moral inquest...Orlandersmith digs deep enough into each character, and with such decency, that no segment seems obligatory. Even the worst human among them is allowed his back story...Perhaps 'Until the Flood' is more effective for leaving you uncertain about which genre it falls into...Moves from character to character with minimal fuss.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"These believable and authentic characters – five white and four black – all portrayed by Ms. Orlandersmith in powerful performances, share their 'spin' on the shooting of Michael Brown...The strength of the piece lies in this honesty and authenticity...Ms. Orlandersmith creates nine distinctive characters with subtle vocal inflections and brilliantly crafted expressions and body movements...Neel Keller’s direction is unobtrusive and gently allows the poet to work her magic." Full Review


“A heartrending demonstration of the potential of art to reach across cultural boundaries and generate the kind of empathy that could potentially help bring us all closer together...Part of the appeal of ‘Until the Flood’ lies in seeing the dazzlingly nimble ways in which Orlandersmith transforms from one character to another...Orlandersmith's virtuosity as a performer never overwhelms the human beings at the heart of this show...A production that impresses in its simplicity." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“The goal is to demonstrate the multiplicity of positions on the spectrum of racial attitudes and opinions...There may be no major surprises but it's definitely healthy to hear the diversity of views so humanly represented…Audiences will receive a first-rate performance addressing a compelling problem in American society. It doesn't attempt to offer solutions but if it can keep the conversation going it will have done its job.” Full Review


"Eye-opening and quietly moving...Orlandersmith brings an entire community to life by channeling her interviews with people who were on the scene of this inflammatory racial incident...Orlandersmith slips in and out of character...It’s hard to say exactly what Orlandersmith does that makes all these people come to life...Somehow, she gets under these black skins and white skins and finds the common humanity of people who are just…people.” Full Review


"Under Neel Keller's direction, it not only becomes a probing study of a community but a revelation of how blacks look at whites, and vice versa...'Flood' doesn't fall into any tidy theatrical genre...No matter what you call it, however, it's a powerful piece of theater...The story that 'Flood' tells is a sad one. It suggests that no satisfying answers will ever be found regarding the Michael Brown case. Perhaps the real takeaway is that the conversation on racism in our country must continue." Full Review


for a previous production "This is gripping theatre that gives us a group of composite characters who all affected in one way or another by the situation that occurred. It's also a must-see show that will have a profound effect on everyone who views it...Orlandersmith does an impressive job of inhabiting each of these characters and bringing them to life on the stage...It's a bravura performance, and one that should not be missed...A short but mesmerizing piece of theatre that I consider required viewing." Full Review

Stage Door St. Louis

for a previous production "Playing eight characters in the span of 70 minutes, Ms. Orlandersmith brings pain, wisdom, and enlightenment to the subject...At times gritty, at times hopeful, these are real stories from real people...Keller has brought Orlandersmith’s words and insights to the stage with power and sensitivity. One can’t help but be moved by her words and her performance...She brings an intensity to each individual that you can believe and feel for...It’s a dazzling tour de force." Full Review

Ladue News

for a previous production "Orlandersmith’s drama is a riveting, thought-provoking production...Even-keeled and balanced in its approach to the nation’s festering problem of race relations that goes back 400 years, 'Until the Flood' is certain to generate conversations about who we’ve been, who we are and who we will become in this unique Heartland city...What Orlandersmith has achieved is bringing a community’s raw emotions from the streets onto the stage in thoughtful and reflective fashion." Full Review

Belleville News-Democrat

for a previous production "Orlandersmith provides an unflinching look at our community—a different perspective through eight distinct characters...As a performer, she masterfully becomes these characters—seamlessly switching voices, cadences, and postures to capture their personalities...This high-voltage piece is an example of what art can do—reflect a time and affect change. It may make us squirm and tear up. But it can't not affect us." Full Review

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

for a previous production "Orlandersmith delivers a fast-paced, wide-ranging series of character sketches...Orlandersmith also plays two young black men in especially effective scenes...Orlandersmith doesn’t push her story forward; we don’t find out what happens to either of them. She lets 'Until the Flood' hover, midair, with its characters locked in a perpetual present tense. Without saying so explicitly, she forces us to remember how that happens only onstage. In reality, life goes on." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "Each profile in the hour-long show has a specific atmosphere and impact...The results are moving in unexpected ways...If all you remember from the news coverage is the riots, 'Until The Flood' is everything else, beneath the tip of a brutally telegenic iceberg...One of the greatest things about this show is getting inside the minds of its two black teenagers...These are the moments to be most grateful for, that seem to unlock the mystery of Michael Brown." Full Review

St. Louis Eats and Drinks

for a previous production "'Until The Flood' is far more about the experience of race and interaction than it is about the Michael Brown death. That’s obviously a deliberate focus. It’s exposition, exploration, rather than preaching...Orlandersmith’s characters, even without the slight changes in wardrobe, are clearly delineated, and she changes accents and body habitus so well those changes are superfluous...Worthwhile, and more challenging than it appears at first." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if you like relevant, challenging theatre.

Don't see it if you want to escape.

Great acting

See it if u want 2 c a solo/writer/performer par excellence brilliantly relate the story of racism without judgment, u love poetry

Don't see it if u don't want to hear more than one side of a sad reality, r afraid to think outside the box or don't want 2 c what u never thought of before

Also this is a story of hope and hopelessness until the flood

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Must see

See it if Fantastic Chamaeleon like one woman show Dael Orlandsmith Does multiple characters so well you believe you’re watching Different characte

Don't see it if I can’t think of a reason not to see it it was wonderfully done.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you want a nuanced take on race and enjoy solo performances. Dael accurately captures the thoughts and actions of a wide cast of characters

Don't see it if your mind is closed to the complexity of racial issues. Even the hypocrisy of liberals is challenged. This play makes you think.

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Relevant, Masterful

See it if You want to see a nuanced, in-depth reflection on Ferguson, with great acting that brings many interesting & complex characters to life

Don't see it if Can’t think of a reason to not see this show.. guess if you are apathetic and uninterested in one of the most important issues in America

Relevant, Masterful, Powerful, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if Solo actress plays various St Louisans giving their perspective on the M. Brown killing. Compelling, chilling portrayals of the characters.

Don't see it if You don't want to confront racism, classism, and fear in the USA. This show isn't just about Ferguson. It's scary.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Resonant

See it if you want a compelling, engaging story and riveting performance. The evening is entertaining as well as educational and moving. Masterful.

Don't see it if you don't want to reflect on today's most note worthy news stories.

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant

See it if A compellingly honest snapshot of race in America, and a moving and empathic dissection of Ferguson

Don't see it if you want to see a show that fits into a clear genre and that unfolds quickly, or if you don't want to see a one woman show

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if solo show about the Michael Brown killing specifically & racism in general; she plays a variety of characters of various ages & views

Don't see it if don't like solo shows where the actor plays a variety of parts no matter how well done

Also with just a simple addition of a piece of costume Ms. Orlandersmith tr... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You'd like an even-handed, Anna Deavere Smith style, inquiry into the events and people of Ferguson. You get a wide range, well presented.

Don't see it if You want a drama, not a presentation, though this is dramatic. You don't care, or don't want to think about, issues of race.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You care about the subject matter. You care about police brutality. You care about Black Lives Matter. You care about our black children.

Don't see it if You are not open-minded and are not willing to hear characters speak from both sides of a traumatic event.

Also Dael is brilliant is every way: from concept to traveling to Ferguson ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you can bare looking at the horrific events in Ferguson with an open mind-DO brings to life 8 characters who give us their POV on the event.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a profound exploration from many differing perspectives of the recent tragedy in Missouri, you don't do non-fluff.

Also Dael Orlandersmith's methodology is reminiscent of Anna Deavere Smith'... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if Solo theater about race relations.

Don't see it if Big entertaining theater

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful

See it if you can appreciate a playwright who not only writes her own plays, but acts in them as well.

Don't see it if you are not open to experience a 360 degree view about the Ferguson, Missouri Michael Brown shooting and the effects it had on the residents

Also Under the skillful direction of Neel Keller, playwright and performer ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Resonant, Excruciating

See it if You want to be reminded that much in this country desperately needs to be addressed.

Don't see it if You want a light play

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Relevant

See it if you want a masterclass on acting in a solo show

Don't see it if you don't like solo shows

Absorbing, Masterful, Intense, Great acting

See it if You appreciate great acting and want to hear diverse voices on U.S. racism, police violence, and how the past informs the present.

Don't see it if You're not willing to be uncomfortable on issues of race and white supremacy, or if you need a neat ending.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you want to engage with the socio-political world around you through the masterful storytelling of Orlandersmith.

Don't see it if you are in search of escapism theatre, or are not in the mind frame to deal with heavy hitting issues in a frank and honest manner.

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant

See it if You like powerful solo performances, docu-theater, want to be challenged and leave with something to think about.

Don't see it if You don't like solo shows; are uncomfortable with discussions of racism and other American problems.

During previews
Powerful, Moving, Relevant, Intelligent, Engrossing

See it if you want to hear several characters react to Ferguson. DO shares deep insights into American racial relations. She's a masterful performer.

Don't see it if you dislike solo shows on current issues. DO's work is similar to Deavere Smith. DO subtly suggests ways to improve the entrenched problem.

During previews
Brilliant acting, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Topical, Important

See it if you are open to a one-person show delivering the many perspectives of the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri, masterfully, thoughtfully,

Don't see it if you have already made up your mind about what the shooting of Michael Brown was all about & THINK you understand both black & white racism

Also Orlandersmith brilliantly brings 8 interviewees- black, white, all age... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Absorbing, Well acted & written, Resonant

See it if The Michael Brown/Darren Wilson tragedy thru the eyes of the community Orlandersmith's solo powerfully felt & written keeping an even keel

Don't see it if Evenhandedness to some extent dilutes passion & instills a clinical feel Power of the tragedy still comes thru but at a sane remove

During previews
By portraying characters from all walks of life, races, ages, orlandersmith's 1-person show movingly brings to life the deep divides that led to the michael brown/darren wilson tragedy in ferguson, mo

See it if fine poetic script takes your breath away w its insights into the fear, anger, prejudice and yes empathy of the people in or around Ferguson

Don't see it if O-smith solidly portrays many characters in show but does not have the acting chops to carry them all off

Cast & Creatives (9)