London Road: Review Roundup

The revival cast
of London Road.

The 2011 musical London Road returned to London’s National Theatre last week to overwhelmingly positive reviews for a limited summer revival. The creative team includes Alecky Blythe (book, lyrics), Adam Cork (lyrics, music, orchestration), Rufus Norris (direction), Katrina Lindsay (production design), James Farncombe (lights), David Shurbsole (music direction), Javier De Frutos (movement), and Paul Arditti (sound). Original cast members Clare Burt, Kate Fleetwood, Hal Fowler, Nick Holder, Claire Moore, Michael Shaeffer, Nicola Sloane, Paul Thornley and Duncan Wisbey are joined for this revival by James Doherty and Linzi Hateley.

Michael Coveney (What’s On Stage): Breaking every rule in the musical theatre book, London Road makes everyday speech remarkable by putting mere words in relief, finding rich patterns in the verbal wallpaper. And this makes for a still-riveting evening of theatre. … People talk of the curative powers of music, and in London Road the cast literally sing their way to living with the past and facing the future. Traditionally, musical theatre is about aspiration, triumphalism, falling in love and changing the world. This extraordinary piece concentrates on the ground level business of patching and mending and surviving and re-defines the priorities in our everyday lives in the aftermath of one almighty blip, the bane and banality of evil. Above all, it proves that we’re all in this together.

Sarah Milton (Upcoming): Adam Cork and Alecky Blythe’s music and lyrics are penned using natural speech rhythm from recorded interviews, but are still melodic and captivating. The characterization, supported by this clever use of rhythm and dialogue, is suspending. … The musical is astonishingly unique and hauntingly real. … I wouldn’t miss it, but don’t expect a musical. Expect a well-told, characterful and true story, supported by instruments and intelligent use of rhythm and a scary insight into human pressures and experience. Four stars.

Jane Shilling (Telegraph): 4 out of 5 stars. It should be an impossible marriage – the formal structures of music and the haphazard meanderings of colloquial speech. In fact it is the opposite: comic, perceptive and deeply touching. … Set to Adam Cork’s plangently melodic score, performed by a six-part band, London Road is a production of many beautifully calibrated parts. Exceptional design and lighting, outstanding performances by an ensemble cast and precision direction by Rufus Norris combine in a production that speaks eloquently about the human condition in all its messy tragi-comedy, while never straining for effect.

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