Opening Night Eye-Opener: Cable Street

Aliya Al-Hassan
Monday, March 4, 2024

In the current climate, where antisemitism is on the rise and anti-immigration rhetoric is top of the political agenda, Adam Lenson’s Cable Street could hardly have more resonance

(All images credit: Jane Hobson)
(All images credit: Jane Hobson)

Cable Street is set during the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF) marched into London’s East End to stir up anti-Jewish sentiment. He was blocked by a diverse group including working-class Jews, Irish dockers and Communists, who all united to insist that Mosley’s cohort ‘shall not pass’.

The show focuses on three young people and their families, living, fighting and working in London’s East End as the threat of fascism looms overhead. Composer and lyricist Tim Gilvin reflects the cultural melting pot of Cable Street itself, with a score that is a fusion of musical styles, including hip hop, music hall, Irish folk, klezmer and modern pop, along with Spanish melodies – a nod to the influence of the anti-fascists of the Spanish Civil War, who used ‘no pasarán’ (they shall not pass) as their slogan.

The show runs the gamut of emotions with its songs, from the standout Act One closer, ‘No Pasarán’, to the witty, Sondheim-esque musings of a quartet of newspaper sellers, to a cheekily subversive BUF anthem coming straight from a noughties’ boy band, complete with Jevan Howard-Jones’s camp dance routine and smoke machine.

Anyone who attempts to stage a new British musical in the current climate deserves huge praise. Cable Street is Alex Kanefsky’s first full-length musical and his book could do with tightening; plus, the upbeat ending to the show feels a little glib. It’s not perfect yet, then, but it has all the ingredients to become a rousing success.

Production Credits

Cable Street
Southwark Playhouse, London, 26 February 2024
Starring Danny Colligan, Sha Dessi, Joshua Ginsberg, Debbie Chazen, Sophia Ragavelas et al
Directed by Adam Lenson

Cable Street is scheduled to run until 16 March 2024– for tickets and more information click here


You can read our full-page review of Cable Street in the April/May issue of Musicals magazine – consider subscribing today!