It's rare that I revisit a show however good it is but sometimes you've got to make an exception and I can't think of a better example: I first saw it just after it opened back in April and when the run extended after its unexpected success I booked to see London Road
again just before it closes tomorrow. Lots of things get called unique but unless Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork collaborate again sometime I can't see how we'll ever again see the likes of this improbable verbatim musical with the most unlikely chorus ever to get stuck in your head: "Begonias, and. Petunias, and. Um. Impatiens and things."
Read my original review
for the basics about the show; a second visit just confirms how much there is to love about it. There's just such a warmth to everything despite how dark the subject matter often gets, Blythe's ear for an accidental one-liner creates lots of funny moments - Duncan Wisbey's delivery of "nobody stole our Festive Wreath this year" is one of my favourite moments, along with "love juice." The way Blythe turns interviews into dialogue clearly involves a lot of clever manipulation so I don't think it necessarily goes without saying how impartial the show seems, I think had she wanted to she could have put her own spin on it but we get a lot of sides to the story. So while the overall feeling is of a celebration of the community spirit that grew out of the neighbourhood's adversity, there's always the undertow of a Daily Mail
nastiness that lurks underneath, of the group banding together partly by demonising others - tonight there were audible gasps near the end when Kate Fleetwood's lovely, shuffling Julie calmly admits she'd like to shake murderer Steve Wright's hand for ridding them of the prostitutes (this moment worked for me better on a second viewing, I mentioned in my original review that it felt underdeveloped but now I think its throwaway nature is part of its power.) And in setting all this to music Adam Cork has helped create something beautiful out of the most mundane. There's been some very dodgy shows in the Cottesloe in the last couple of years and it's easy to get annoyed about the National trying audiences' patience when they try out new stuff. But when every so often a London Road
comes out of that experimentation, it makes it seem worth the misses. It's too late for me to recommend this now but I did so right at the start of the run so if you've missed one of the most extraordinary shows of the year you've only got yourself to blame.London Road
by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork is booking until the 27th of August at the National Theatre's Cottesloe.