Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2023

God Done Opened the Sky!!

Jersten Ray Seraile

Genre: New Writing, One Person Show

Venue: TheSpaceUK


Low Down

After a harrowing experience leads him to question his identity, Louisianan Jersten is met with the spirits of his ancestors who each give him insight into where he comes from in this one-man show.


This song comes up throughout ‘God Done Opened the Sky!!’, and it is there even when it isn’t being directly sung. Young Jersten has had his first run in with a police officer who thinks he is the suspect he is looking for, and the experience leads him to question everything, not least of which the meaning of the name his abusive father gave him. At his mother’s suggestion, he prays, and he is visited by three of his ancestors in turn. First is the Appalousa Native, Dragonaise, who tells Jersten of his 1% Native American blood. The spirit encourages Jersten to walk softly on the grass, to only eat fruit that is fallen from the tree, as his ancestors once did. This is followed by Jersten’s Uncle Cookie, the son of a violent father who has much to impart upon Jersten about the complexities of such a father/son relationship. Finally, there is Abdallah, a man from Cameroon who is about to be baptized by the white colonizers who have come to his country, but rather dreams of being a warrior like his father. 

Jersten Ray Seraile is the writer and performer of this piece, and you can feel the love he has for it bursting through his movements and stories. Though his transitions between characters are not always sharp, each one is played with a charming sincerity that pulled the audience in and made us hang on his every word. The script is well-written and often poetic, and his “step out of this soul” is the thread that weaves it all together into a greater narrative. There is also the persistent use of knocking, pecking, the beating of one’s heart, and the drum of time that add movement and cohesion as we go between characters. Sometimes that beat goes too quickly; the show ended somewhat abruptly. Seraile has such command over his audience, and such obvious affinity for his stories, that to spend more time with each character would be greatly welcomed. 

This is not only a timely piece whose events are born of an instance of police-led racism, but it is also a deep reach into America’s past, and the onus on Black Americans to understand their own bloodlines when much of their origins have been purposefully taken from them. Seraile guides us into this world with a steady hand. I hope in the next iteration of this play, he takes us even further.