Theatre review - The Long Road South

S­et in the American Midwest in 1965, The Long Road South focuses on a white, middle-class family and their two black domestic servants.

Andre (Cornelius Macarthy) and Grace (Krissi Bohn) have worked the summer for the Price family and want their pay so that they can head South and join the civil rights marches. Ivy (Lydea Perkins), the family’s precocious teenage daughter, doesn’t want Andre to go and will do anything to keep him there. Her mother, Carol Ann (Imogen Stubbs) is so soused in rum she can barely walk and prefers to lounge around in her slip. When confronted about her alcoholism she responds: “I don’t drink…I imbibe.”

They all await the return of Jake Price (Michael Brandon), to see if he will pay the staff their wages and let them go. But Jake has problems of his own and is in no mood to negotiate.

Paul Minx’s bittersweet drama cleverly contrasts the self-indulgence of the Price family with the hard-working lives of God-fearing Andre and his girlfriend Grace, an articulate activist and budding writer. However, Minx concentrates on his characters’ personal passions rather than developing a more political perspective, which is a shame. Much of the play’s humour comes from Carol Ann’s drunken antics, exploited with gusto by Stubbs, and Ivy’s self-conscious attempts at seducing Andre.

Apart from an ineffectual fight scene between the two men, Sarah Berger’s production is well-paced and there is much to admire in the script and fiery performances.

King's Head Theatre until January 30
0207 226 8561

Originally published by the Islington Tribune