London Road

Tue 7th – Sat 11th February 2017

reviews

Charlie Prior

at 11:22 on 8th Feb 2017

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As someone who didn’t grow up in Britain, I was largely unaware of the Ipswich serial murders, and came to London Road with a blank slate. The show was initially destabilising and unlike other musicals, with the book and lyrics taken verbatim from interviews with residents. An interesting musical complexity was developed by leveraging the natural rhythm and meter of the original recorded speech, lending the lyrics a lifelike and engaging quality. This was effectively harnessed by the actors, who created rich depictions of noticeably distinct characters in the London Road story, without straying into the realm of caricature.

London Road focuses not on the murders themselves, but rather on the aftermath from the perspective of residents. Although an unlikely setting for a musical, it is the tale of recovery and healing of this wounded community that lends itself to a charming and enjoyable viewing experience.

Vocally, the cast of London Road were outstanding. The score featured complex rhythms, harmonies and vocal lines that were handled with aplomb. Chorus numbers were a highlight, with exquisite harmonic lines and balance of vocal parts. It is clear that much time and effort was spent on perfecting the ensemble, and congratulations must go to MD Joe Beighton and Assistant MD Geraint Owen.

Excellent solo performances also worked to showcase the vocal talent of the cast. However, it must be noted that the balance between soloists and the band was not up to par, with many of the soloists difficult to hear. With such complex and fast lyrics, it is important that we are able to clearly hear the performer. That being said, the band performed well given the difficult environment of the ADC.

Choreography was used effectively to enhance the aforementioned rhythm of the show, with sharp, repeated movements serving to demonstrate the residents’ nervousness or frustration. Again, the cast worked together to illustrate the growth of the community in coming together after the murders, with a clear distinction in body language and dynamics from the beginning to the end.

Great care was taken by the cast and crew with regards to their treatment of the murders and their cultural impact. The residents’ true voices shone through the actors with nary a line falling flat. Subtle ironies and jokes were carried throughout the characters, lending a sense of poignancy to the show. Every actor in the show was able to skilfully deliver both dialogue and monologue and they should all be commended particularly on their ability to maintain consistency between several characters in fast scene changes.

The ADC’s London Road is a show not to be missed this week. Although perhaps an unsettling premise; given a chance, this tale of healing and revival of a stricken community will warm any heart.

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