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DVD: London Road | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: London Road

DVD: London Road

Alecky Blythe's documentary stage musical looks at home on the small screen

Revolutionary Road: Olivia Colman and Anita Dobson in the cast of screen musical 'London Road'

It’s a long old haul from the MGM musical to London Road. Alecky Blythe’s hugely original account of the murder in 2006 of five sex workers in Ipswich emerged from a set of interviews with local residents. At the National Theatre it grew into a verbatim musical with the addition of Adam Cork’s deftly knitted score.

The stage version travelled to the big screen with Rufus Norris directing, and now makes it to the small screen.

Television, in the shape of BBC drama Five Daughters (2010), is where the story of the murder victims was first told. London Road has widescreen moments, particularly at the climactic outdoor party in which the street celebrates its redemption. But it also makes a good fit for the small screen, with its espousal of television grammar – news crews filing reports to camera, documentary interviewees on sofas, police tape familiar from countless procedurals, much of it formally framed by the discreet choreography of Javier de Frutos.

What qualifies the film for more than one viewing is Blythe’s remarkable patterning of down-to-earth speech as sung lyrics, and Cork’s score, which from semi-spoken recitative levitates into ravishing, hypnotic close harmonies, most movingly when a posse of fearful sex workers sing of abandoning their patch. The cast is led by Olivia Colman as a chirpy resident of London Road who reveals a dark, intolerant side. She inherits the role from Kate Fleetwood, who here plays a sex worker on whose haunted face Norris’s camera alights questioningly at the film’s ambivalent close. Though their man gets good billing, the Tom Hardy fanclub won’t see much of him as an Ipswich cabbie.

It may have lost some theatrical intensity but, unlike a lot of stage-to-screen musicals, London Road barely suffers as it is returned to the streets from which Blythe sourced her story. The extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a live Q&A from the premiere.

Semi-spoken recitative levitates into ravishing, hypnotic close harmonies


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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