Presented by Theatre Passe Muraille, in association with b current Performing Arts, Shakeil Rollock’s physical theatre piece, Okay, you can stop now, is a riveting, well-executed concept. From the evocative design to the pointed gesturing, this transports you inside an experience of cumulative history from a racialized perspective.
Melanie McNeill’s set is a vast landscape of newsprint. Television screens are stacked in corners, along with other tools of media, its creation and access—a mobile radio/tape deck discarded in a shopping buggy, a tripod. This is a wasteland where information collects to burden and overwhelm the inhabitants.
Footage of news telecasts—images depicting brutality and responsive protest—flash across the textured set. Rather than appearing flat, Julia Kim’s projections seem to fester within surfaces, contaminating the environment and the people trapped within. The performers—Tama Martin, Alten Wilmot, Cheryl Chan, Cody Berry-Ottertail—navigate this dystopian space with a certain doomed grace. Through repeated, ever-evolving gestures of self-protection, aggression and panic, their interactions suggest a constant, relentless struggle against a bombardment of oppressive activity.
When the microphone appears, they treat it with an obvious reverence, but they also, quite pointedly, avoid it. Their conflicted relationship to their own voice is a tangible phenomenon here. Specifically, becoming a spokesperson is a terrifying prospect.
Though it feels as if this highly stylized pantomime of torment will continue without resolution or opportunity for reflection, Rollock and Justin Eddy (dramaturg and assistant director), build toward a pivotal monologue. The cacophony and frantic movement give way to Martin’s fierce and poignant rant as “the angry Black woman.” She articulates the constant struggle—being dismissed until her token identity becomes politically useful, a plaything for strategic wokeness. Her words are punctuated by brief, delicate spasms of frustration—it isn’t just text, her plight is a visceral reality.
Though the overall feel is distinctly apocalyptic, we end on a hopeful final chord. And aesthetically, it’s been a vivid, immersive experience. The space is particularly well-used—the balconies, cat-walks and stairs offering dynamic visual compositions that draw you into this potent and thrilling tone poem.