Shortcutting… London Road

4 Sep

Yesterday I went to see what can fairly be described as a weird play. London Road‘s plot synopsis is something along the lines of a music-based retelling of the events of the 2006 murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich from the point of view of the residents of London Road, the street at the heart of the murders. Hmmm. Perhaps I should have guessed from that that it wouldn’t be your standard, middle of the road (excuse the pun) National Theatre production. But I looked at the five star reviews and I figured ‘what the hey – it’s gotta be good, right?’ And it was. Weird, very weird, but good.

The entire script constituted of things said by real-life residents of the road, and so it contained a lot of ‘umm‘s and ‘err‘s and ‘you know‘s which made it seem at first as though the cast didn’t know their lines, although it soon became clear that this was all intentional. (I should mention that the very versatile cast consisted of only eleven people, who each took on a variety of roles, some of which involved thick Suffolk accents that were a little difficult to decipher.) And then certain lines of the script would be taken and sort of sung and repeated over and over as a sort of refrain, the one that got stuck in my head being ‘begonias and petunias and… umm… impatiens and things.’ So yes, all a bit odd, but it did work, and it was also pretty funny, as hard as that might be to believe given the subject matter. I do wonder if the people who actually said these things have seen the play, as they might not find their own words quite so amusing, but for those of us who weren’t involved, the words of disgruntled residents fed up of all the cameras were funny, in a slightly dark sort of way. It was actually pretty interesting hearing the residents’ take on things, and there were moments when you could really imagine the fear of knowing that there was a serial killer somewhere in your midst, and the stress of having the press around all the time, and the sight of hundreds of police officers (at one point, there was an investigation team of 650) with their imprisoning blue-and-white tape. Oh and I liked the theme of having happy music playing while dark things were being said. All very antithetical.

One final word about London Road is that after you see it, you will be very conscious of your own umming and erring and trailing off half way through a sentence, and will be tempted to repeat what you just said in a Suffolk accent, which is a bit disconcerting but kinda fun. The play hasn’t got long left to run, but I thought I ought to alert you to the work of Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork, should you ever come across them again, as, in this case anyway, it’s definitely worth a watch. Even if you don’t thoroughly enjoy it, you will remember it for a looong long time.

London Road poster

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