London Road


STARRING: Olivia Colman, Tom Hardy

Centre stage: Colman (middle)

A musical most likely different from anything you’ve ever set eyes and ears on, London Road is grounded in both prestige drama — it began as a play at London’s National Theatre — and skin-crawling fact, its subject being the ways in which the 2006 killing of five prostitutes in Ipswich, Suffolk, affected locals. Written word-for-word from recorded interviews by “verbatim theatre” practitioner Alecky Blythe and directed by Rufus Norris, who also helmed the stage version, the screenplay’s sing-songy numbers and kitchen-sink dialogue chime as an avant-garde, insider’s view of a workaday neighbourhood strung out to snapping.


The hyper-real impact is unnerving: when, for instance, the 48-year-old killer, forklift driver Steve Wright (who does not appear), is caught, a vulpine waiting crowd positively spits out the lyrics to “It’s a Wicked Bloody World”. The ensemble cast — Colman is a stalwart mother, Hardy appears as a psycho killer–engrossed cabbie — is beat-for-beat impeccable, both at their most brought down and their most resilient going forward. And while the community is the focus, the ladies of the night have their moment as well. Their rendition of “We’ve All Stopped” is a ghostly lament.