The Long Road South was a powerful snapshot into the life of a family with hired help in America in the 60’s. It follows the story of Grace (Krissi Bohn) and Andre (Cornelius Macarthy) on the eve of their leaving the Price family, as they look to head south to Alabama to join the voting marches.
Paul Minx’s script flows with a strong pace, mixing moments of comedy with the more intense personal scenes, and driving to a climatic breakdown of the family. The set is small and intimate and the audience surrounds the action. Sarah Berger’s direction has a strong impact because you can see and almost feel each glance and the movements between the characters.
One of the things that I found really interesting was the relationship between the two men, Andre and Jake (Michael Brandon), and how Andre talked about them having a mutual respect for each other, where their Gentleman’s agreement stood above all. In this respect, both their attitudes were quite progressive for the time, creating a different dynamic to the way in which the power balances were played out.This tied in nicely to the subtitle of the play,‘What makes a man’, a theme that carried not only in this moment but also throughout, touching all the characters and the roles they were playing with each other. None more so than Ivy (Lydea Perkins), who played all the characters in different ways to get what she wanted. She was a great embodiment of a traditional American girl twisting people around her finger.
Imogen Stubbs gave an outstanding performance as Carol Anne Price; I was entranced by her character from the moment she walked on. Everything from her mannerisms to the breaks in her voice created this tragically broken suburban wife falling apart more and more as the day wore on.
The Long Road South deserves a West End transfer so that many more people see it. It’s on at The Kings Head Theatre until January 30, 2016.