We open with a group of young Southern belles, beautifully attired in vintage-style dresses, learning how to apply make-up to please their husbands, so setting up the conservative attitudes of the 1960s’ American south where this play takes place. One of these young women, Annie-Mae, ultimately rebels against her expected place in society by joining a Martin Luther King march in support of young black servant Necie, whose injured leg prevents her from marching herself.
Whilst the piece needs further development, it’s impressive what these A-level students have managed to create
The subject matter remains important today, but the script doesn’t quite succeed in creating the story of courage, freedom and friendship it promises. The relationship between Necie and Annie-Mae could be further developed and we need to see more of Annie-Mae’s character act. There are many characters in this play and their objectives are often unclear. Some scenes seemed to simply be about showing them in social situations having racist opinions, waited upon by Necie, who is in turn scolded, mistreated and sexually harassed. This unfortunately is only accentuated by directorial choices that veer into melodrama. There are some key moments where certain actors are spotlit for short soliloquies or where sentimental music telegraphs an emotional response, which slows down the pacing of the play. The idea of switching to use monologue is interesting, allowing the attention to focus in on a particular character, but is perhaps not used in the right places.
As a student production, there are actors of differing strengths. In particular though, Lulu Ogununga is excellent in her role as Necie. Whilst the piece needs further development, it’s impressive what these A-level students have managed to create in a reasonably short period of time. The portrayals of the women, particularly their “oh-so-polite” dialect, was enjoyable and there are interesting ideas being explored in this work, which uses past events to provide commentary on the issues of racism and equality today.