favourite theatre of 2011, and I was far from a lone voice: So popular was Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork's verbatim musical that the National Theatre has brought it back, moving it from the smallest auditorium to the largest as one of this year's Travelex £12 shows. Despite seeing it twice in the Cottesloe I couldn't resist one more visit in its new home, and this time brought my mum along for the ride. In 2006, in the run-up to Christmas, five prostitutes were murdered in Ipswich. Alecky Blythe, who creates her plays by editing together real-life audio interviews, went to Ipswich to speak to the residents as the events were unfolding, and then again in the subsequent couple of years to find out how they were coping with the fallout both from the killings themselves, and the media circus that came to town.
Anyone who, like me, was already familiar with the show, would be pleased to enter the Olivier and see a few hanging baskets of flowers suspended from the ceiling, as Blythe's focus was on the residents of the road where the prostitutes plied their trade, and where killer Steve Wright lived. Their determination to build a real community out of the tragedy is centred on an annual gardening competition that changed the whole feel of London Road: From red light district (a term the residents object to strongly - in reality it was a residential road the prostitutes moved to when work on a nearby football stadium stopped them using their usual streets) to "gardens galore."
London Road by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork is booking in repertory until the 6th of September at the National Theatre's Olivier.
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes including interval.