Monday 26 February 2024

Cable Street - Review

Southwark Playhouse, London


Music & lyrics by Tim Gilvin
Book by Alex Kanefsky
Directed by Adam Lenson

The cast of Cable Street

Not so much a Cable Street as a road to hell that’s paved with good intentions. Tim Gilvin and Alex Kanefsky’s musical is framed around a massive story, that of the Battle of Cable Street that saw thousands of Londoners join forces to halt Mosley’s British Union of Fascists’ march through the heart of London’s Jewish East End.

An ambitious conceit, but the show’s narrative however fails to capture the enormity of the Battle’s achievement, focussing instead on micro-vignettes that seek to wrap up most of the East End’s minority communities. The linking threads of an unconvincing romance and a contrived vengeful finale just don’t move one’s soul in a way that such a remarkable episode of history should command.

An ensemble cast play a multitude of roles and there are moments of excellence from most of the performers. Standout numbers in particular across the two acts come from Sophie Ragavelas, Sha Dessi, Joshua Ginsberg and Jez Unwin.

Gilvin’s rap numbers are frequently garbled and his lyrics too simplistic - that being said, his melodies for What Next, Let Me In and Only Words are charming.

Adam Lenson directs a piece that ultimately fails to reflect the immense humanity of its underlying historical grounding. The production also makes an offensive casting choice by placing an actor of colour in a fascist’s uniform.

Sold out for the entire run but check with the box office for returns.

Runs until 16th March
Photo credit: Jane Hobson

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