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The Long Road South at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 17th Jan 2016 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood


The King’s Head may be London’s oldest surviving pub theatre but its reputation for fostering new talent is legend.

So much so that it attracts the great and the good such as the latest actors to tread its boards, Imogen Stubbs and Michael Brandon.

Being in the company of such stellar performers is a treat in itself, but to be one of just 110 audience members confined in a tiny space is a real coup for any theatregoer. The close proximity of the actors and the quality of their performances draw us in as if we are actually part of the plot. We see every muscle twitch, we feel every emotion, we laugh when it’s funny and draw back in horror when it’s not.

The Long Road South was originally part of the Hopefull Theatre Festival, produced by the So-and-So Arts Club in 2014, when it was nominated for an Off West End Best Play Award, with Michael Brandon being nominated for Best Actor.

Directed by Sarah Berger, founder of the club, writer Paul Minx has based his play on the African-American who helped raised him, and shows the way the lives of both black and white were set to change during the American Civil Rights movement of 1965.

It takes place in the Indiana home of the Price family. Their domestic workers, Andre and Grace, prepare to head South to join the civil rights marches but each family member is determined they should stay.

Central to the plot is Andre, on the surface a gentle, God-fearing man who helps his employers’ teenage daughter with her Bible studies. But like every one of the characters he has a dark side, and Cornelius Macarthy plays all facets of this man’s personality in a beautifully executed performance. In complete contrast, Grace is out-spoken and angry, and Krissi Bohn brings great passion to the role.

From the start Lydea Perkins shines brightly as the Price’s teenage daughter, Ivy. This is someone to watch! With a fresh, all-American girl-next-door naivety, she gives a spirited performance, from her plain-speaking to her loyalty to her friend Andre, and her childlike insecurities shown in her subsequent reaction to rejection.

This strong cast is headed by Imogen Stubbs who, as Ivy’s alcoholic mother, is a sad  specimen of life, and at such close quarters made me embarrassed and wanting to look away as I would on seeing a drunk in the street - so realistic is her performance.

Michael Brandon doesn’t make an entrance until well into the play but his volatile presence as husband, father and employer more than makes up for his lack of time on stage.

Such excellent performances are, though vital to the play, only secondary to the story itself. At the beginning we find ourselves laughing easily and wholeheartedly at what would now be regarded as racism, but as the play progresses we see just how racism affects the

lives of communities. It is a lesson we are still learning.

The Long Road South is certainly a journey worth taking and like every journey is a satisfying experience.

 The Long Road South is at the King’s Head Theatre until January 30.  Image courtesy of King's Kead Theatre.

Box office: 0207 226 8561


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 2 years ago
    Thanks, Clare. Cracking review.
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