Written by Daen Palma Huse
Whenever I am sitting at the theatre and realise that the cast delivering to a packed auditorium consists of three talented actors, I am astonished. A theatre performance without musical numbers, without an overbearing set, without dance, without supporting acts; this requires the combined talent of very enthusiastic and devoted performers. With salt it is a different story yet: not three, not two, but only one single brave actor carries the play in a performance without break. This one actor is Rochelle Rose, who shows commitment to the story, devotion to the performance and a great tactfulness for timings and transporting the audience through time and emotions.
The play, written by Selina Thompson, centres around the artists’ own journey to retrace the route of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle from Europe to Africa to the Carribean, which she embarked on in 2016 on a cargo ship. Thompson’s body of work concentrates on the politics of marginalisation, and in salt. she starts unpacking concepts centring around colonialism, capitalism and the diaspora. What sounds like blunt criticism at first is in fact a considered comment on society today, which gains momentum through Rose’s performance this year at The Royal Court Theatre after having won various awards in previous performances including The Stage Edinburgh Award, the Total Theatre Award for Experimentation and having been shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.
A topic that might make parts of the audience feel uneasy is relevant not only for the UK’s current state of affairs and coming to terms with its past, but carries crucial importance on an international level. The story moves from critique to personal experiences told by the author through the actor who has us hanging on her lips for the entire duration of the play. We are taken through many emotions, connecting to the story and relating to our own lives. It is through the nuances of joy, nostalgia, sorrow, dejection and reflection that we intimately connect to the story. Poetic and honest, Rochelle Rose’s performance in Selina Thompson’s play is one not to miss. Salt. leaves us with a lasting impression.
The applause at the end of the play was strong, although I would have expected the audience to react more enthusiastic. In hindsight I believe the audience remained captured even after the performance had finished, with Rochelle Rose sitting by the exit of the auditorium with a basket of pink chunks of salt for the audience to take away as a reminder; “To take it is a commitment to live, a commitment to the radical space of not moving on, and all that it can open.”
salt. is written by Selina Thompson, performed by Rochelle Rose and directed by Dawn Walton. It runs in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs Tuesday 14 May – Saturday 1 June 2019. Click here for more information.