Chichester Festival Theatre – until 23 October 2021
Reviewed by Emma Barnes
Chichester Festival theatre triumphs again with this world premiere adaptation of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song by Suhayla-El-Bushra, which coincides with Black History Month.
This is story which needs to be heard, set in the time of slavery, an important often hidden traumatic part of Jamaican history which predates Windrush. The play closely follows the book and like the book is told with humanity and also a great deal of humour.
The story concentrates on the characters and the relationships between the slaves and their plantation owners, and although set in the past there are many themes that resonate now all over the world. This is a strong story, narrated by central character Miss July. Heart wrenching and poignant, with just the right level of well placed humour to balance without undermining the subject.
The words are beautifully written, performed and directed, capturing the audience and transporting them to the sights and sounds of the Caribbean with subtle lighting and sound, dialect and use of authentic words. Expect your evening to be filled with a range of emotions; laughter, inspiration, anger, empowerment, education, compassion for the survivors. Hope for a long term future tainted with apprehension for the short term future as newly freed slaves. Most of all you can expect to be thoroughly entertained.
An excellent play and production which deserves to be shown and time and any place.
A huge mention has to go to Llewella Gideon as Old July who brilliantly navigated us through the timeline spanning several decades and was the glue seamlessly binding the various subplots together with captivating charm and character. Congratulations also to Tara Tijani as the younger July who made her professional debut – someone to watch out for in the future.
The show was well received by the audience and received a standing ovation.