Ipswich, England serial murders to be adapted into 'musical'

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Ipswich serial murders, in which five female prostitutes were killed in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, are to be turned into a show entitled London Road. The "documentary musical" is expected to debut in the Royal National Theatre in London this April.

The concept has been criticised. When ITN conducted some vox populi interviews, members of the public reacted negatively: "[A]lmost makes it seem a bit light-hearted, doesn't it? It takes the impact out of it," one woman said. One man said that it would "bring back memories to [the families of the victims] and that's not right." Another woman remarked: "It's not a musical, you know, it's a tragedy for the families it happened to."

It's not a musical, you know, it's a tragedy for the families it happened to.

—Female member of the public

The Reverend Andrew Dotchin, who knew victim Tania Nicol, advised: "It's holy ground. Take your shoes off. Walk carefully. Remember you're dealing not so much with an event in the news but with something that in a real sense that is still alive, still affecting lives. It has a great potential to bring healing but if you're not careful, it can also bring harm."

In their defence, a National Theatre spokeswoman made a statement, saying "London Road has been created from edited interviews recorded with people from Ipswich and is a serious look at the effect on the community of this tragic event, rather than at the murders or victims themselves; and at how the community was able to pull together to create something positive out of the tragedy.

Is this show a bad idea or a good one?

We're not going to call it a musical in future because we recognise it gives a misleading impression; the music will do something very different by reflecting the voices of the interviewees. We realise how sensitive a subject this is and hope that, when people come to see it, they will see that the piece doesn't seek to exploit or sensationalise but to shed light on a side of the story that hasn't previously been told."

The name London Road is a reference to the name of the street where Steve Wright lived. Wright was was jailed in February 2008 for the murders of Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell - all of whom were female prostitutes that lived in the Ipswich region. Their naked bodies were discovered close to Ipswich in December 2006.

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