Review: Murder Ballad, The Arts Theatre

There’s something quite special about Murder Ballad – the current production packing out The Arts Theatre in London’s West End.

The quartet of performers appearing in the show are all powerhouses of the stage, with countless West End and Broadway credits between them. And so, in many ways, just the fact that they are performing together, in such an intimate setting as The Arts, is as good a reason as any to go and see the show.

That said it’s not just the names in lights that should draw you to Murder Ballad. The story is neat; a tightly compressed and taught production that flies by in a single act of drama and tension.

The narrative follows Sara (Kerry Ellis) and Tom (Ramin Karimloo), passionate lovers in their early twenties, whose romance falls apart after realising their relationship isn’t possibly as compatible as they first thought.

Flash forward a decade (this all happens in the show’s opening number, such is the bullet train that is Murder Ballad), and Sara finds herself married to Michael (Norman Bowman), stuck in a rut and torn between her past and her future…

Is the one that got away really risking everything for? And to what lengths will these characters go to find a happy ending…?

Credit: Marc Brenner

Completing the foursome of superb actors here is Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, who is on top form as the narrator – and pretty much steals the show. She oozes sex appeal and sensuality, and the way she breaks the fourth wall to keep the tabs on the characters and keep the audience clued up on the drama unfolding is brilliantly handled – especially considering the nifty twist in the tale in the climactic scenes of the show.

One scene in particular, in which Hamilton-Barritt appears on stage in her full narrator get-up (trench coat, knee-high boots, cigarette in hand), but plays the role of Sara and Michael’s young daughter is particularly effective.

In terms of songs, there’s plenty for musical theatre fans to sink their teeth into here and while the numbers might not be the next Defying Gravity or I Dream A Dream, Murder Ballad is certainly packed full of belters – perfectly performed by the small cast of West End superstars.

And if all that isn’t enough to tempt you to experience Murder Ballad, I’m not ashamed to admit another totally valid reason to enjoy the show is that the gorgeous Karimloo spends a large portion on the show shirtless – and he’s in fine physical shape.

So, get your tickets now!

Murder Ball is now showing at The Arts Theatre until 3 December. Get your tickets now at