REVIEW: London's Calling

Salisbury Journal: Glyn Kerslake and Stuart McLoughlin in London's Calling Glyn Kerslake and Stuart McLoughlin in London's Calling

LONDON has provided the inspiration for a surprising number of songs.

There are the obvious ones that spring straight to mind, the song after which the Playhouse’s latest offering is named being one.

And there’s London Bridge is Falling Down, Underneath the Arches and Waterloo Sunset.

Then there are the more obscure ones, or those that have simply become mired in the mists of time and are seldom heard any more.

London’s Calling aims to tell the story of the city through these songs, connected by dialogue taken from works throughout the ages that also reflect the capital.

It was hard to know what to expect beforehand.

Something like this could just be a concert of mismatched songs – there’s A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, but there’s also Lily Allen’s LDN.

But writer and director Gareth Machin has fitted everything together beautifully.

The songs have been carefully chosen to ensure that it is not only a celebration of London and all that is good about it, but also reflective of its history, its problems and its seedier side.

The three actor/musicians are well chosen, work wonderfully together and are very good at what they do.

Glyn Kerslake, Stuart McLoughlin and Lauren Storer harmonise beautifully and every lyric is embodied with the meaning the author intended, so you really think about what the song means and the period in which it was written while you are listening.

McLoughlin’s touching rendition of The Streets of London was particularly effective.

And Kerslake is one of those people who plays the piano with such joy and love that you really wish you kept up those lessons you had as a child. Storer had to cope with the fact that the chain appeared to have come off the bike she was riding around the performance area while she sang LDN, but she handled it admirably and simply propelled herself around with her feet on the floor without the smile ever leaving her face.

And the text extracts from authors including John Betjeman, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Sebastian Faulkes, Mervyn Peake and Shakespeare added depth – sometimes with pathos, sometimes with humour or drama.

This is a gentle, good-natured meander through a city that has inspired or provided a setting for so many works in music, drama and literature, and it’s really rather lovely.

Morwenna Blake

* London Calling will be at Salisbury Playhouse until January 18. Box office: 01722 320333 or salisburyplayhouse.com.

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