This overtly and passionately political piece tells the harrowing tale of what it was really like to be black and abandoned in New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina triggered catastrophic floods. Wilson and her team make great use of physical theatre and chorus work, underpinned by Dan Steele’s powerful sound, to evoke the horror mostly from the point of view of 14-year-old Maya (Naomi Ackie). For a four-hander it feels surprisingly full and busy.
Ackie adeptly conveys a carefree girl who loves her exuberant city and its music who turns into a mature, thoughtful rescuer and eventually a self-reliant but sad refugee in her own country. The other three actors are remarkable for their slick versatility with Adrian Decosta impressively morphing with total conviction from a deaf old man to a dying boy in an attic, to a hospital patient with appendicitis to a boatman, among other roles. Nathan Medina performs the older roles (and other younger ones) well with his darker voice and larger stature. Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter is moving in her main role as Maya’s mother, a nurse at the hospital.
It’s never easy for a British cast to perfect US accents and the Louisiana drawl is particularly challenging. Voice consultant Claudette Williams has ensured the accents of the four actors are convincing with few lapses.