London Road

Art imitates life in this highly original musical documentary

Presented by Canadian Stage
Written by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
Musical direction by Reza Jacobs

The Company in London Road. Photo by David Hou.

Verbatim theatre has never been more electrifying than in Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork's London Road, the critically-acclaimed musical about the serial murders that took place in 2006 in the quiet town of Ipswich, Sulfolk, England. Now on stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre, Canadian Stage's North American premiere features a superb Canadian cast and outstanding musical direction by Reza Jacobs in a production that is currently the talk of Toronto's arts scene.

A bit of background on the show's creation: Blythe spent hundreds of hours interviewing the residents of London Road after five local prostitutes went missing and were discovered murdered on the outskirts of town. Their recorded words were then set to music by Corkpauses, inflections, colloquialisms and nervous laughter included—to tell the story of the arrest and trial of the man responsible. Steve Wright, the accused and guilty killer, had been living on London Road, just houses away from some of the residents interviewed. Of course, this news brought much unwanted media attention to the area, a horrible experience that ultimately brought the locals together as a community.

We first meet the residents of London Road at a meeting of the newly formed neighbourhood association, where they are organizing a gardening competition in an attempt to beautify their surroundings. The 11-person ensembleincluding Sean Arbuckle, Damien Atkins, Ben Carlson, Michelle Fisk, Deborah Hay, George Masswohl, Julain Molnar, Clynis Ranney, Fiona Read, Steve Ross and Shawn Wrightplay the residents of London Road as well as 52 other parts, mastering their dialects and speech patterns, to create a collective narrative that holds a mirror to the town, revealing the community’s observations and reactions, both mundane and despicable.

The way that Blythe and Cork have structured the songs, repeating phrases for emphasis in the style of choruses, is powerfully effective and memorable. The audience becomes, in essence, the interviewer, privy to a criminal investigation unfolding on stage.

Director Jackie Maxwell gets remarkable performances out of each individual cast member, as well as the whole company—this is truly an ensemble piecein this beautifully staged production with spectacular set and costume design by Judith Bowden. Audiences won’t be able to look away, and may even be tempted to see it again and again.

London Road runs until February 9 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.


Show Dates: 
Sun, 2014-01-19 - Sun, 2014-02-09
Our rating:



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