London Road

9 May 2011, National Theatre

I have this hypocritical relationship with reviews. I never seem to really agree with many of them, but at the same time, I still use them to gauge whether or not to see a show. And so when a show that was struggling to sell tickets gets NINE 5-star national reviews (the most I’ve ever seen!), plus really good word-of-mouth… we managed to buy our tickets before the show swiftly sold out.

Loved it. Really different from anything else I’ve seen.

I could see why the show initially struggled to sell. It’s so hard to describe to someone the genre of the show let alone in copy. “Adam Cork uses the melodic and rhythmic speech patterns.” Plus the topic is so bleak – “The residents of London Road had struggled for years with the soliciting and kerb-crawling that they frequently encountered. As Steve Wright, the occupant of No. 79, was arrested, charged and then convicted of the murders [of prostitutes], the immediate community grappled with what it meant to be at the epicentre of this tragedy.”

For the lack of words, the show was musical-like, but not. They actors sang their words, but not to tunes. They sang notes. Apparently the real people who lived on the street went and protested about the show outside the theatre. Can understand how they were offended that their lives were turned into a musical.  And their very own words were (probably) taken out of context and put into ‘songs’, with actions and movements choreographed in.

I still can’t decide if the show felt morally correct. There were so many stereotypes and caricatures. How accurate are they? But it also highlighted how that community were affected, how they were thrown into the limelight with no way to escape, how they turned to each other for mutual dependence and how the community pulled together during these hard times. However, this was all done in an ironic way, as the show was doing precisely what it was making a social commentary on.

The amount of rehearsing that must’ve gone into the show must’ve been incredible. I say, another feat for director Rufus Norris.

(By the way, this show is coming back for Summer 2012!)


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