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The Long Road South - Michael Brandon stars

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MICHAEL Brandon (as Jake Price) leads a cast of five in The Long Road South, a powerful new drama of race, politics and family set against the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s Indiana.

Part of The HopeFull Rep Season, this world premiere production runs at the Hope Theatre from August 2 to August 30, 2014.

On a back patio in Indiana USA while Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement are in full swing, Andre and Grace, domestic workers for Jake’s Midwestern family, want to head South from Indianapolis to join their brothers and sisters in the cause.

Jake’s daughter, Ivy, is discovering her sexuality while her mother Carol-Anne battles with the loss of her youth. Jake himself will do anything to stay in control, including refusing to let Grace and Andre go. As the long hot summer rolls on, a battle of wills begins: it’s never too late to stand up for yourself.

Writer Paul Minx said:

“The play tells the story of an African-American man who helped raised me. He was gentle, religious and angry – all at the same time. He wanted to be part of the American civil rights movement but never found the personal courage to march or get involved. He didn’t think he was good enough. He was brought down by the ‘day-to-day racism’ – the constant reminders African-Americans received that they weren’t as good as whites. This is the hardest prejudice to fight and it ate away at his soul. I wrote the play as a testament to him.”

Lt. James Dempsey in Dempsey and Makepeace, Michael Brandon was most recently seen starring in the West End production of Singin’ In the Rain. During his long and varied acting career, he has provided the voice for Thomas the Tank Engine and played the Olivier Award nominated lead in the National Theatre’s Jerry Springer The Opera. His recent work includes Hollywood blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger and BBC 2’s Episodes.

Paul Minx’s recent stage work includes Walking on Water (2008) with Susannah York, and See How Beautiful I Am that transferred to The Bush Theatre following the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2001). Minx’s other plays have twice been selected for the National Playwrights Conference (the O’Neill) in the US. The Long Road South was a finalist this year. His Prowlers has been produced at the Los Angeles Actors Theatre and was a recipient of a Drama-Logue Award as the best play produced that year.

A recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Minx has taught playwriting and was a freelance writer and reviewer for The Village Voice. His most recent film work is Atlantic Crossing which now in development with Cinenord, and his film script, Law of Uncertainty, is under option to Norsk Film.

The cast of The Long Road South also includes Felicity Dean (as Carol Anne Price), whose numerous credits include films Persuasion (1995), The Whistle Blower (1986) and TV’s The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000). Her stage work includes Regan in King Lear at Shakespeare’s Globe (2003), Neil Bartlett’s Don Juan (2007) and Trevor Nunn’s The Coast of Utopia (2002).

Completing the cast are Kay Bridgeman (as Grace), Vanessa Mayfield (Ivy Price) and Victor Power (Andre). Jake Murray directs.

The HopeFull Rep Season presents four new plays from four writers with four directors and a cast of fifteen on a journey from 19th Century France to the lives of the old and the young in the modern day. Alongside The Long Road South, the season also includes:

Madame Bovary by Rosanna Lowe, directed by Holly Maples – a dynamic new adaptation of Flaubert’s classic tale of sex and adultery.

Flood by D.H.W. Mildon (co-produced by Sotto Voce Productions), directed by Simon Evans – a funny, moving account of love and old age.

Dirty Promises by Lily Driscoll (co-produced by Sheer Drop Productions), directed by Tom Latter – a punchy, exciting modern urban love story set among the youth of today.

The HopeFull Rep Season is produced by the So And So Arts Club, a new company founded by Sarah Berger to promote artistic talent in all areas – theatre, film, TV, writing, dance, producers etc.- and enable them to collaborate in getting new work on. With members ranging as far afield as New York and Singapore and several productions under its belt or in the pipeline, The HopeFull Rep Season is its most ambitious initiative so far.