Jack: A Ripper's Tale
Different Device Theatre Company
Paradise in the Vault
The gruesome story of the Whitechapel murders is often a surefire method of captivating the interest of a crowd.
The untold, oft-argued identity of Jack the Ripper has long been a matter of fascination to many people the world over. Not, however, to the makers of this play, as the focus of Jack: A Ripper's Tale is instead on the feeling of fear amongst the prostitutes of Old London Town.
Given that the pervading sense of fear in London at the time should make this a captivating and tense experience, it's a surprise that, instead, the company has opted to make a slightly bawdy comedy out of most of the running time, complete with contemporaneous gutter language and a rather larger than necessary cast of characters.
With only three players and minimal costume changes, it's occasionally unclear who is who on stage—until someone dies, that is, with Jack occasionally popping up to murder someone nastily.
What are more interesting are some of the techniques used to make the stagecraft work better, including shadow theatre, some interpretative movement and even tossing a handful of water onto the audience.
However this is still imbedded in a poorly thought through script with too many unnecessary scene changes and far too much coming and going, making this a wasted opportunity.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan