What a thought provoking and astonishing piece of theatre. We were amazed at the virsatility of the actors and their characterisation! There was a story to be told here about humanity and the complexities of our lives and reactions to events around us. I am just so glad to have seen these actors show us what life was like for the people of London Road! Well done to everyone involved. - Amanda Dexter
28 Jul 11
I am not blessed with the ability to see the emperor's new clothes. How this ever got out of the National's laboratory god only knows - perhaps it sneaked out with Frankenstein? Nick Hytner signs everything off, so what was he doing when this came up for approval? Schmoozing in NYC with the boys and girls at the Lincoln Centre no doubt whilst War Horse was getting ready to open? (A show worthy of the National Theatre). Perhaps, the worst fault with this piece is the subject matter, it is too close to the tragic events that inspired it. Would the writer consider the Soham murders fair game for their next venture? It is bad taste par excellence. Secondly, the sung through verbatim dialogue is boring, nothing less. OK, it has the odd, very odd, moment when some of the sung through seemed to be going somewhere only for it to fade away into inconsequential drivel. Nothing can compare to a well crafted script. This nonsense would put a person off theatre. An abortion that should never have seen the light of day. For it to have received five stars from some of the critics beggars belief. Theatre should inform, inspire, entertain and, perhaps above all, make us think about ourselves - this failed on just about every level but worst of all, if that were possible, it's biggest failing is it's sooooo BORING. 1/10 see me! - rds
18 Jun 11
Last night I witnessed the musical theatre at it's most innovative, collaborative best! The art form has come of age and is smack bang firmly in the 21st Century - alive and well at NT. More please. ***** - Barnum
19 May 11
When the RNT announced their Spring programme I assumed that London Road would be one to miss. It was difficult to see how a piece of verbatim theatre set to music about a serial killer could be either entertaining or appropriate. However a raft of 5-star reviews persuaded me to take a chance but I should have trusted my instincts and stayed away. Admittedly a seat which was almost in the wings did not help but this left me cold. I know the intention was to portray a community coming together in the wake of appalling events, but the impression I gained was of a theatrical intelligentsia patronising that community that reinforced the residents of Suffolk as country bumpkins. Retaining all the ums and ahs, the inarticulacy and the linguistic errors just made the (real) characters figures of fun or even scorn (rather like Mike Leigh does in Ecstasy). The worst example was Kate Fleetwood, normally so good, who played her main character virtually as a simpleton. Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork may have been well-meaningbut I feel they fell far short of their intentions. - David Baxter
18 May 11
What an utterly captivating piece of theatre this is. I saw it in previews and haven't stopped thinking (or talking!)about it since. The acting is outstanding - Kate Fleetwood was particularly stand-out. I've booked to see it again and have recommended it to many people. Fantastic production. - SJS
12 May 11
The subject matter for this play does lead one to wonder whether justice cam be done to what was a terrible period for the people in Ipswich. Having read the uniformly excellent reviews I felt compelled to see this play and I am glad I did. Far from cashing in on these terrible tragedies, London Road is a sympathetic account of the people who lived there and were so affected by those terrible events. In what is a simply but cleverly staged production, the use of verbatim, rythmic speaking is clever and innovative giving a strong sense of what the residents of London Road felt about those turbulent and tough times. Some scenes work better than others. The sense of isolation as the police moved in is told brilliantly through the simple use of a long piece of police tape stretched around the actors, acound the stage. The flower competition gives a sense of the real coming together of the community, of hope and renewal. I was sceptical about whether this production could work. It certainly does. - Paul Wallis
08 May 11
I do wonder whether the person above was indeed in the same production... this is literally one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Clever, Creative and Innovative, it tells a moving and thought provoking story whilst poetically directed. The music is outstanding and I've rarely seen anything so well lit. This is definitely a refreshing turn for the National - it gives hope to new collaborations and will inspire musical theatre makers in the years to come. Outstanding... you must go see. - MGT
17 Apr 11
This is ground-breaking theatre. We’ve got used to verbatim plays, where the actual words of interviewees on a subject are edited and dramatised to tell a story; well, here’s a verbatim musical – well, more a play with music. The subject is the Ipswich prostitute murders of 2006 and the story is told from the perspective of the residents of the street where they worked & where their murderer lived and the subsequent invasion by the media. Here I am seeing a musical about five dreadful killings just four days after one about one. Yet again, what seems to be a thoroughly inappropriate art form to tell true stories ends up confounding expectations.
Writer Alecky Blythe interviewed the residents over a period of 2.5 years from the time of the murders to a time when they were returning to some sort of post-trial normality. She tells the story through 11 of them, all members of the Neighbourhood Watch set up at the time of the killings. Every word in the play was said by them and many have been set to music, including the er’s, ah’s and um’s of everyday speech. This produces an extraordinary sung dialogue which occasionally becomes sung chorus. Composer Adam Cork is more used to creating soundscapes and incidental music and it seems to me this is why he’s so good at setting this everyday speech to music.
Rufus Norris’ sensitive direction if often highly effective – people enter in a group from the darkness behind the playing area, as Christmas approaches a giant singing santa turns up, police tape wraps around the residents at the time of the arrest and it ends at a London Road in Bloom contest with a riot of colour and hope as over 30 hanging baskets and window boxes fill the stage. The rest is conjured up with just 10 plastic chairs, 7 black sofas and armchairs and a table.
It must be incredibly difficult to deliver this sung dialogue, but eleven singing actors do so brilliantly. In addition to their main character, they share in playing 52 others – the prostitutes, policemen, councillors and the media. Kate Fleetwood is extraordinary as she morphs from one character to another. Nick Holder is unrecognisable as the Chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch. Hal Fowler, Paul Thornley and Michael Shaeffer’s characterisations of the media types who couldn’t give a shit about the lives of the people they invade are spot on.
There is a surprising amount of humour, though it misfires occasionally when you feel you’re laughing at these people (I’m not sure how I’d feel if I was one of them) but in a way that’s part of the unsettling, uncomfortable experience which gives the play its edge and ultimately its success in conveying the neglected and very real experiences of people whose lives were turned upside down, first by the use of their street by the working girls, then their murder, then the forensic attention of the world and his wife.
When I woke up early this morning, it was all still going round in my head. I couldn’t get back to sleep; I just had to get up and write about it. I think that’s good theatre for you. Not an easy ride, but one I certainly don’t regret making. - Gareth James
17 Apr 11
Quite simply the most innovative musical theatre I have seen for a very long time - artistically challenging and beautifully acted. Definitely waste your money seeing this. - JJE
16 Apr 11
If you can't see the sheer brilliance in this, you're either dead or thick.. or just simply 'dead thick'
5 stars from the broadsheets. I'd give it 10. Outstanding theatre. The National at it's best. - Stuart
16 Apr 11
Please waste your money - this is a life affirming show. Original and innovative (even though at times it reminded me of Nick Park's Creature Comforts), this is an exciting and thought-provoking work. I would happily watch this again. The minute of silence in the second half is quite breathtaking. - Paul Webster
16 Apr 11
I wonder if I attended the same production as some of the critics of this musical/play as words can not describe how bad this is. What Mr Hyter and the NT were thinking of when they commisioned this rubbish god alone knows. A complete waste of money,time and petrol and this production should be avoided at all costs. The faces of the audience told the story of how bad this was. Although Hytner and the production team sitting at the end of my row seemed to enjoying it. Why I did not leave at the interval I do not know but valiantly I decided it could get better but it did not. I asked the people sitting next to me if it was just me that was bored but they confirmed they were bored stiff too. Do not waste your money. - ILs
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