An intricate dramatisation through song as the verbatim stage musical London Road gets a cinematic adaptation featuring Anita Dobson and Olivia Coleman.
London Road is a screen adaptation of the verbatim musical, which in 2011 was premiered at the Cottesloe National Theatre in London. The drama is constructed from interviews with the residents of London Road in the wake of the 2006 “Ipswich Ripper” murders; a broken community trying to rebuild and mend itself, putting the horrors of the murders behind them for good. Its distinguishing factor is the way it takes the words from the community and puts them to song.
It features an ensemble cast including Anita Dobson, Olivia Colman and, in a glorified cameo, Tom Hardy. The various cast members perform and deliver their dialogue, interspersed with musical sections; it’s all handled rather brilliantly. What’s also remarkable is the translation from stage to screen as London Road’s big screen outing benefits from a cinematic aesthetic. There are also brilliant insights that you don’t particularly expect at the beginning, because as the residents are recounting their own experiences of the horrendous crime, the responses don’t make them completely and wholly sympathetic toward each other, and this is something the film doesn’t shy away from doing.
What we hear throughout the whole film is a melange of residents talking about how all this has affected them in their lives, how they can’t seem to trust each other and how through this they are developing some sort of community, whilst on the outside of this, we see the women that are on the very sharp end of this horrendous act and being brought together. As it goes on, the film offers a very British form of reconciliation, but even as it’s doing that, the film isn’t afraid of scratching under the surface of this community, despite the fact the film is about them being broken apart and mending themselves again.
It isn’t afraid of building an atmosphere that is dark and troubling, the way the residents talk about the events and how they interact with the people of London Road. So, the filmmakers have succeeded in taking a real life tragic event, taking it apart, and using it as way of examining a modern British society and the strange fractions that go on within, whilst attempting to make it work as a musical. The actors give solid performances (particularly the ever outstanding Olivia Colman), the musicality of combing conversation with song is done brilliantly and as a whole, London Road works as a film, being gripping and moving all at the same time.
Written by Ryan Pollard
Directed by: Rufus Norris
Written by: Alecky Blythe
Starring: Olivia Colman, Anita Dobson, Tom Hardy
Released: 2015 / Genre: Verbatim Musical
Country: USA / IMDB
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London Road is available on DVD in the UK NOW