Sunday 2 August 2015

The Long Red Road review

The Australian premiere of Brett C. Leonard’s The Long Red Road follows six individuals all facing their own demons and struggles. Set in the heart of America, the name of the play is a Native American term for the journey toward redemption and inner peace. In this instance, the focus rests on the relationship between brothers Bob and Sam, and the effects of a tragic accident.

The first act begins with numerous mini-scenes peering into the lives of the six characters, and as such, the story moves at an incredibly slow pace. The attempts to provide insight into the turmoil and anguish they are facing result in actually knowing very little about these people, so until the end of the first act, I cared very little about these people. To be perfectly honest, I could have done without this act altogether and would have preferred to get right into the heart of the story found in the second act.

Having the stage set in the middle of the space with the audience on either side gave a voyeuristic feel to the show, with these characters’ lives on display for everyone, with nowhere for them to hide. The downside is, depending on where exactly you were seated, you could miss out on some small but pivotal moments as I did between characters Bob and Tasha.

The set design itself though worked well with the bedrooms of each home situated on opposite ends of the stage and the universal communal areas being shared in the middle of the space, giving you the sense of interconnectedness between these people. Another effective staging decision was the projections on both sides of the wall, further enhancing the environment we were in. In particular, this was perfectly executed in the final dramatic moments of the show.

Under the direction of David Myles, the whole cast does very well with their American accents and in their portrayals of the emotionally demanding characters. Anjelica Angwin and Marissa O’Reilly’s unfortunately few scenes together spoke volumes with very little dialogue in their relationship as estranged mother and daughter, Sandra and Tasha. Liza Meagheras the innocent Annie is a nice contrast to the damaged Sam, played by Mark Diaco. Diaco and Lee Mason (Bob) are the standouts as the two siblings who play their roles with raw honesty and convincing emotion. Rounding out the cast is Red Horse as Clifton, who also performs the evocatively haunting musical score for the play.

The Long Red Road is a tragic story about the effects of alcohol not only on individuals but also on those around them and in some aspects, on society itself.  Some excellent performances and highly effective technical designs make it worth getting through those first forty minutes.

Venue: fortyfive downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 9 August| Tues- Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5:30pm
Tickets: $33 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: fortyfive downstairs

*Original review appeared on TheatrePress on 2 August.

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