On February 26th 2012, a horrific event took place in Florida which started an entire movement; the tragic murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in his home community by a white neighbour. George Zimmerman shot Trayvon, who was walking home to his father's house carrying skittles and an Iced Tea, all because Zimmerman claimed that Trayvon was ‘a real suspicious guy'. A year after being charged for murder, a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman of Trayvon's murder, and he walked free, kick-starting the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
This Bitter Earth follows a couple through the first few years of the movement; Jesse, a black writer and Neil, a white activist volunteering for Black Lives Matter. Through flashbacks and memories told directly to the audience, we are invited into their lives which are intertwined with the stories of more tragic deaths of Black People.
This Bitter Earth is beautifully written by Harrison David Rivers. In a story with an incredibly important and tragic undertone, he has managed to bring out much more than just throwing facts into the face of the audience. This is a piece of theatre that leaves you thinking about what you could do to help, and to do that while still showing some beautiful and sometimes even funny moments just proves how beautifully written this piece of theatre is.
Peter Cieply's direction was stunningly provided, using a relatively small space extremely creatively to keep the flow of the performance moving, with stunning transitions between present and flashbacks. The incredible attention to detail, when the same memory plays out, with almost exact replication, but with subtle differences drawing the audience in and allowing them the space to be pulled into the story.
Martin Edwards (Jesse) and Max Sterne (Neil) are an absolute tour de force. Their combined onstage chemistry and breathtaking storytelling ability manage to mesmerize the audience, creating some beautifully playful moments in this couple's story, whilst still keeping the audience engaged in the much more serious truths that the play presents.
This Bitter Earth is a masterpiece of theatre.
It runs until 11 March.
Review: Joshua Thompson