Review Freeman, Strictly Arts seen at Canada Water Theatre by Tanica Psalmist

The production Freeman by writer Camilla Whitehall in collaboration with Strictly Arts; is a graphic depiction of past victims who’d had severe mistreatment from the hands of the authority. Freeman re-enacts real life incidences of police brutality and the effects it left behind to the relatives of those lives lost to injustice, taking you as far back as the Eighteenth century to present day where we’re shown sequences of institutional racism permitting these fatal attacks.

Out of the six cast members, there was a solo white performer’ each of them did a remarkably believable job embodying real life people who had existed, uniquely bringing their past experiences and individual perspectives of raw, deep and reflective testimonials in fine detail to the stage.

The intimate space had minimal features of mise-en-scene apart from different music genres and lighting effects. The cast throughout the entire play mainly used their bodies to form moving objects, set a scene or express the type of place they were situated in. Various accents from the casts were used to portray several characters; impersonating English, Southern American and West African which was done perfectly when illustrating a different sense of culture. Some of the characters role-played were Sandra Bland (2015), Sarah Reed (2016), William Freeman (1847) and David Oluwale (1969); victims of Collective failures within society.

What helped to make Freeman such a powerful play was the projections and the incredible shadow puppetry visually displayed, to create comical effects. The production infused scenes with traditional African moves and Rock and Roll Classic fifties dancing with various styles, stunts and eloquent moves. Exhibiting a night club and times when dance styles from other races would be explored and embraced. Physical theatre techniques were an element incorporated to convey battling, restraining and vulnerability.

Freeman is an educational play, cohering factual statistics and documented information foretelling the incidences of fateful traumatic attacks throughout the years in police custody and on-going suffering which correlated to mental health; provoked from irrationalised victimising and the duration spent incarcerated as guilty under an oppressive system. Freeman is empowering, enlightening and revolutionary, translating history in to a story format.

A deep, emotionally compelling production!

Tanica Psalmist

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