- Arusa Qureshi
- 24 August 2018
Powerful drama set against the Baltimore Riots of 2015
Hannah Trujillo's Man Down provides a timely exploration of the effects of systemic racism from the occasionally uneasy viewpoint of an interracial relationship. Journalist Eva Ramírez and youth worker Michael Sterling face some uncomfortable truths as they struggle to recognise the complexities of both their shared and differing backgrounds within the Latino and black communities.
Their relationship is probed with an emotional maturity throughout that results in a deepening tension as Eva's estranged brother Eddie arrives, complicating their happy life together. Although attention is drawn to their racial difference in order to highlight the specific effects of the wider theme of societal violence, the dialogue lacks a deeper engagement with the issues beyond their individual relationship. Eddie's casual racism offers an uncomfortable confrontation with how such behaviour is often excused or rationalised, but this isn't always treated with the scrutiny it perhaps requires.
Set during the Baltimore Riots of 2015, where peaceful protests against the unlawful death of unarmed black man Freddie Gray turned violent, Man Down makes a powerful statement on the consequences of police brutality. With a minimal set and three actors playing four characters, Trujillo's new play emphasises how all-encompassing such violence can truly be.
Venue 13, until 25 Aug (not 20), 2.35pm, £12 (£10).