Lon­don Road paved with gold

Movie stars lend grav­i­tas to this stage play adap­ta­tion

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

Lon­don Road

Cer­tifi­cate 15 Stars Olivia Colman, Paul Thorn­ley, Nick Holder, Clare Burt, Michael Scha­ef­fer, Ni­cola Sloane, Kate Fleet­wood, Tom Hardy.

EVENT cinema – live screen­ings of theatre and opera pro­duc­tions, ex­hi­bi­tions, mu­sic con­certs and other en­ter­tain­ment – has be­come in­creas­ingly popular and lu­cra­tive.

The Na­tional Theatre in Lon­don has been at the fore­front of this revo­lu­tion, broad­cast­ing more than 20 pro­duc­tions by satel­lite since June 2009, in­clud­ing Phe­dre with He­len Mir­ren and Danny Boyle’s Franken­stein with Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch and Jonny Lee Miller.

In a neat re­ver­sal, the theatre’s artis­tic direc­tor, Ru­fus Nor­ris, em­braces the cin­e­matic medium with this dar­ing screen ver­sion of the crit­i­cally adored ver­ba­tim drama Lon­don Road.

The ground-break­ing stage work, which pre­miered in April 2011, doc­u­ments the real-life dis­cov­ery of the bod­ies of five women in Suffolk in 2006 in the words of res­i­dents of the tit­u­lar Ip­swich street.

“This is what they said. Ex­actly as they said it,” con­firms the film’s som­bre open­ing cred­its.

A me­dia scrum in­clud­ing jour­nal­ist Simon New­ton (Michael Scha­ef­fer) de­scends upon Ip­swich, where lo­cals are gripped by fear af­ter the mur­ders of five women, who all worked as pros­ti­tutes in the area.

“If it had hap­pened in Lon­don, no one would mind, cos ev­ery­one gets stabbed in Lon­don,” ob­serves one of the lo­cals at a Neigh­bour­hood Watch meet­ing.

The res­i­dents of Lon­don Road, in­clud­ing bub­bly mother Julie (Olivia Colman) and enig­matic neigh­bour Dodge (Paul Thorn­ley) are ob­vi­ous tar­gets for TV crews be­cause pros­ti­tutes con­tinue to tout for busi­ness out­side their homes.

“He was al­ways be­ing propo­si­tioned. Poor sod,” con­fesses res­i­dent Rose­mary (Ni­cola Sloane), point­ing to her over­weight hus­band Ron (Nick Holder).

Two gig­gling school­girls wan­der around a lo­cal cafe, cast­ing ac­cus­ing glances at men and whis­per­ing, “You au­to­mat­i­cally think, ‘It could be him’.”

A creepy taxi driver called Mark (Tom Hardy) is one pos­si­ble sus­pect, telling a pas­sen­ger that he has a fas­ci­na­tion with se­rial killers, but that doesn’t mean he is one.

When Lon­don Road res­i­dent Steve Wright is ar­rested by Suffolk po­lice, battle lines are drawn be­tween lo­cals, in­va­sive me­dia and the work­ing girls, rep­re­sented on screen by Vicky (Kate Fleet­wood).

By ex­pand­ing Lon­don Road from the claus­tro­pho­bic con­fines of a theatre stage, Nor­ris’ film lacks some of the elec­tri­fy­ing ten­sion of its orig­i­nal in­car­na­tion.

The orig­i­nal 11-strong cast, who embodied more than 70 char­ac­ters, reprise roles on screen, flanked by more recog­nis­able faces in­clud­ing Colman and Hardy.

Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork’s in­no­va­tive mu­si­cal score is still im­pres­sive with the back­ing of the BBC Orches­tra, and Javier De Fru­tos’ ac­cen­tu­ated chore­og­ra­phy looks ter­rific on a wider can­vas.

The rhythm, pitch and me­tre of Blythe’s recorded in­ter­views are repli­cated in the sung dia­logue, which is a far cry from the usual verses and soar­ing melodies of big-screen mu­si­cals.

How­ever, au­di­ences should per­se­vere be­cause there are mo­ments of star­tling bril­liance cap­tured on screen by Nor­ris and his team.

Olivia Colman joins cast mem­bers repris­ing their roles from the stage

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