The Low Road: A Low Point For Dominic Cooke's Swansong?
Not quite the acclaimed departure the director will have wished for
The Low Road is Dominic Cooke’s outward bow from The Royal Court, where he has been residing as artistic director. His take on Bruce Norris’ play has been met with mixed reviews, however and may not be quite the triumphant exit that Cooke will inevitably have been hoping for. Founded on the principle of capitalism as “a crucial tenet of America’s founding mythology,” (The Metro) the play tells the story of Jim Trumpett (Johnny Flynn), a man who makes use of his own entrepreneurial skills by “fleecing his fellow man.” He opens a brothel, buys a slave and makes speeches denouncing the principles of charity and tax paying.
Awarding the performance a sturdy three stars out of five, The Metro review nonetheless concludes that Cooke’s final number at the Royal Court, “for all its brio” is a “muted finale.” Similarly, in the Independent, three stars were awarded, though the opening of the review spells bad tidings for The Low Road, as Paul Taylor remarks “There were moments, during the three hour slog through The Low Road, when I found myself thinking that I would rather take any road than have to watch it again.” He describes Cooke’s swansong as “a real puzzle” and “A disappointing end to a largely admirable regime.”
The Guardian’s review is somewhat more positive, though barely enough to remove the negative image left by the two previous reviews. Michael Billington enjoyed “Cooke's production, ingeniously designed by Tom Pye” and remarked upon the “cornucopia” of good performances, with special mention going to Johnny Flynn. Well, that’s one reviewer, at least, who wasn’t left frustrated by the lengthy performance.