Steve Ross and Damien Atkins (photo by David Hou)
Extreme complexity is the key
London Road an unexpected piece
by Dave Ross
The story of a community rocked by the serial killing of five prostitutes seems odd fodder for a musical, but a musical it is. And a rather pretty one at that. Canadian Stage has created a new production for London Road’s North American premiere, after a successful 2011 run at the National Theatre in the UK.
There is a lot of excellent in this show, but this is a rare case where excellent + excellent does not equal excellence. Each of the components of the show is excellent on its own – the layered and textured score, the whip-sharp performances, the direction, and the design. What keeps this production from excellence is a sameness that runs throughout it, particularly in the music. Each and every song follows a formula, which becomes readily apparent midway through the first act. Cork’s score allows for just enough deviation of musical styles to stave off boredom, but the sameness is still there. Perhaps the thing that hurts this musical the most is the repetition present in the songs. A song that consists of five minutes of the cast singing the same words over and over about the conviction of Wright was trying, and this happens in almost every song. Unfortunately, this production feels like an exercise about verbatim script technique that has been stretched out into a too-long production.