Nearly three months on, the murder of George Floyd still sparks debate, fury and aggression on all sides of the conversation. While many have hoped and prayed that his murder marked a turning point, others are realising that the death of another black man at the hands of white police officers is merely another false dawning which will ebb into history.
Under Heaven’s Eyes, a new piece of writing by Christopher Tajah, is a solo production which directly challenges institutional racism forcing black and minority communities into tight corners. Tied directly into issues surrounding COVID-19 – where black people are four times more likely to contract the virus than their white counterparts – Under Heaven’s Eyes is additionally a father’s plea for his children’s safety.
Racial profiling, systemic racism and institutional racism are real, no matter how loudly some people claim otherwise. Beyond the atrocity of George Floyd’s death, Tajah’s work offers a glimpse into a potential powerhouse of a production. Though the work’s current structure is frayed and requires staging, what never wavers is Tajah’s skilful use of language. His powerful writing possesses a balance of logical premise with emotional and inventive creativity.
Just as Tajah’s script begins to feels stilted – needing an infusion of movement, for instance – the narrative strays back to a more personal touch. Under Heaven’s Eyes speaks with a righteous and raw voice, though Tajah’s reliance on statistics to emphasise the poignant notes already made is where the performance really hits home. The inclusion of a family dynamic emboldens the audience’s connection, though could be forged quicker to secure the plot. Tajah’s performance is an eloquent and articulate account of the blatantly rotten foundations of many public and elite institutions.
Charles Wotten, Emmett Till, Rashan Charles and Breonna Taylor. Hopefully, these are names people will remember. If you don’t know them already, then they are ones to research. Through Under Heaven’s Eyes, Resistance Theatre Company Ltd illustrates the stagnant, rife root of racism in the world. Tajah’s ability to admirably convey a myriad of emotions in a 45-minute solo-show is a testament to his artistic talents.