ear for eye exam – a dazzling call to action with Lashana Lynch | Television


A mother talks to her teenage son about what to do when approached by the police. He shows his palms. “Inflammatory,” she says. He puts his hands in his pockets. “Belligerent,” she said. “I don’t even …” he protests. “Attitude,” she retorts, her voice neutral but tinged with despair. No matter what he says, wears, does, the list goes on. “Arrogance, insolence, challenge.” What if he looked at them with confidence? “Good,” her mother said, “but not. “If he turns away? “Impudence, disobedience.” If he looks down? “We didn’t raise you so that you weren’t looking at any floors, son.” “

And so begins Debbie Tucker Green’s vital, eloquent and beautifully performed screen adaptation of her original play, which opened at the Royal Court in 2018 to rave reviews. I say adaptation, but it’s much more than just a filmed play. Which is great, because no matter how bright a room is, when the fourth wall becomes the black mirror of my own TV screen, my suspension of disbelief is dismantled and the whole theater crumbles. Fortunately, by carrying out the delicate transfer from the scene to the screen, the ear for the eye ends up pushing the limits of both forms. Here is a devastating experimental film about the British and American black experience, rarely seen side by side. The most sober and the most ruthless of cine-poems. A play with extras using speech, physical theater, installation and music to verbalize what remains beyond the limits of articulation.

ear for eye is made up of three distinct but connected parts, all of which unfold against a stark black background with minimal props. The first is a series of short monologues, dialogues, meetings and confrontations. An American elder involved in the civil rights movement (Nicolas Pinnock) is reprimanded by his militant young son (Tosin Cole), who has had it with the long, slow and steady march of progress and demands change, now. “Give me a reason not to…” he shouts, omitting the word that we, the audience, must add in his name: cash. It’s a green signature tucker: leave words hanging and sentences unfinished. Not only does this demonstrate the silence around such painful subjects as racism and police brutality, but it demands our intimate participation.

Some skits, like that of two young women at a BLM protest arguing over the end of an effective protest and the start of hashtag activism, are less convincing than others. And sometimes the repetitions of tucker green – words like “attitude and aggression” and scenarios involving racial profiling – lose their cumulative power and become, well, a little repetitive. But when it works, it really works. In a breathtaking incantatory monologue, an older black woman (Carmen Munroe) talks about the past and the present, and how little has changed. Each sentence begins with the word “before” and as she speaks the seasons revolve around her, from falling leaves to rain, snow and bloom. “Before, our children had no chance to be children,” she says. ” I had no choice, have no choice but to be involved, when involved was physical and dangerous, is physical and dangerous.

In the hands of a minor writer, it could be dry and overworked. But tucker green is a formidable blacksmith of words, capable of writing sentences that are both as lyrical as prose poetry and as edgy, spontaneous and real as speech. No one speaks like his characters, yet they are utterly convincing. It is also thanks to the talent of the cast of the whole. In part two, Lashana Lynch (short story 007 in No Time to Die) is a respectful but increasingly frustrated academic trying to get a word out with her arrogant, abusive, and scouting white male colleague. To show how futile a conversation can be when one person’s reality is completely invisible to another’s, it was so good that my blood pressure went up.

The third part is the easiest of all. An austere verbatim play in which a series of white American and British citizens, adults and children, face the camera while reading historic segregation laws and the racist codes of slavery that came before them. Here, the urgent contemporary voice of tucker green takes a step back to let the story speak for itself. Eventually, because the past is never over, the voices fade away. The actors gather in the rain, dressed in black. Their latest cry of pain, to the glorious opening strains of Cellophane from FKA twigs, is also a call to action.


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