(Bridget Minamore’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/19.)

In Freeman’s first five minutes, six figures on stage grapple with one another in the low light. Their bodies twist and turn, they climb on each other, they are flung over shoulders and thrown from one person to the next. There’s a violence in their movements: at one point, a performer looks as though he is hanging from a tree. At the end of the sequence, the five black cast members lie on the floor, the sole white performer sitting on a crate. There’s a sense they’ve all been killed, died in a traumatic way. Soon we find out they have.

A collaboration by writer Camilla Whitehill and Strictly Arts, Freeman is a revelation, a piece of stunning physical theatre that deftly looks at deaths in police custody, institutional racism and mental health.

Focusing on six real-life people, including Michael BaileyDavid Oluwale, and Sarah Reed, the cast leap and tumble their way through each of their often painful stories. Danièle Sanderson’s slickly directed, fast-paced hour sometimes feels unrelenting. Projected images and music are subtle but strong, complemented by sounds made by the performers’ bodies. Claps, punches and slaps all begin to sound sickening, and the horror of being tasered or treated with electroshock therapy is not shied away from.

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Photo: Strictly Arts

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