FILM: London Road

The words musical and documentary are not often used to describe one film, but that is what London Road is, a musical documentary.

Adapted from the National Theatre play of the same name, London Road documents the life of the residents of London Road, Ipswich in the wake of the murders of 5 prostitutes in the area and the discovery that the murderer lived on their road.

Alecky Blyth, the writer interviewed members of the community in 2006 and for a few years after. She used the exact words said by the residents in the exact way they said them in both the play and the film and the songs that go with them. So the actors had a very challenging task of listening, multiple times, to the recordings of the interview of the person they would be playing in order to exactly mimic their speech pattern, including the mistakes, pauses, ums, ahs, everything! And it works at making a very authentic and innovative portrayal of how the people of Ipswich were feeling at the time.

At first it took a while to feel at ease with the rhythm of songs that have “ums” and “basically” and other grammatically incorrect sentences that do not usually fit with the classic musical style, but once you are over the initial jolt it is easy to understand why Alecky wanted to preserve the authenticity. The story and the emotions feel real because they are and so you feel genuinely moved by the what people went through.

The street is very much a central character to the film and you feel pulled in to it with the residents but they also make the point that this could have happened anywhere and on any street, which is very poignant.

The acting is incredible, as mentioned the actors had a hug task perfecting the dialogue and lyrics for this film and they do it superbly. I grew up in Norfolk (just next door to Suffolk) and they all nailed the accents.

A particularly moving scene was the song sung by some of the prostitutes who knew the victims personally. Honing in on how they had been affected by the murders and how many had decided to stop street walking because of it. Over the end credits we hear snippets from the real recorded interview just to prove how accurately their thoughts were expressed though the songs.

It is unfortunate that it took such an awful incident to improve the lives of these women, a lot more effort and money was put into their rehabilitation but at least there is something of a silver lining.

The film is uplifting with a positive message of community spirit and friendship. It was refreshing to see that it was not the grisliness of the murders or the murderer that were the focus but the lives of the ordinary people in the neighbourhood- their thoughts throughout the investigation and the weight lifted from them when it was all finally over.

London Road is a poignant film that is well worth seeing- I believe you will read the word innovative in almost every review of this film as that what it is, it takes a risk with an original idea and it works. It was energizing to see an original idea on film in the mass of comic book films (even though I do quite like them), reboot, remakes and endless sequels.

Niki Alexandrou


Niki Alexandrou

Niki Alexandrou

Niki Alexandrou

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