Tuesday, February 9, 2021

JACK THE RIPPER (South Devon Players)***

 

By Jack

Link: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/southdevonplayers/t-lgvgxe

Available until: 15th February

Jack the Ripper was supposed to be streamed a few days ago but because of the illness of the broadcast technician it was postponed to tonight.

That was obviously bad luck for them and not a lot of fun for the poor broadcast technician, hopefully they’ll be better soon. But as it sounds like tickets will still be available to buy for a bit longer so it seemed worth whacking in a review.

The script was written by Laura Jury who also directs, plays several roles and seems to have kept the whole thing running. It’s been written a bit like a detective story with lots of scenes for the police as they try to figure out what the you know what is going on. She’s also given the victims personalities and that works well. It means each death is a bit more than just another body. (It can get like that a bit in detective fiction, you’ve got to admit.)

The directing is also good. Mostly with all this Zoom stuff you either see everyone and it’s hard to know where you’re supposed to be looking (you can usually see who’s speaking but there’s not always time to see everyone’s reaction) or you just see the person who’s speaking. This mostly showed one person at a time but it wasn’t always the person who was speaking. This means we see a lot of the interesting reactions that go on which obviously adds to the drama. But it does make it a bit more like TV than theatre. With theatre there’s a whole stage which might have a lot of people on so you might miss something important, with TV it’s more controlled. This is more like TV. I don’t think it necessarily matters but if anyone’s really missing theatre then maybe that part will be disappointing and maybe it won’t. It didn’t bother me.

Laura’s created a great detective character, Frederick Abberline. The best detective stories have a detective who is more focused on the case than on his personal life (we don’t really need to know about that unless it gets relevant) but they have a really strong personality that gets your attention and holds your interest. Abberline is great, he has that intensity and it’s a great performance from Christophe Lombardi. Sarah Gregori is great as Inspector Reid too, she’s kind of like the sidekick and they can be really stupid and annoying but she isn’t, she’s got her brain switched on.

The girls are really interesting like I said. Sarah Hobbs makes Annie into a really nice girl, maybe not the brightest but she thinks about other people and she wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. Gina Winter’s Mary seems like another nice girl only with a bit of intelligence about her, when she comes into the story she kind of carries it for a while and gives the story a bit of a personal angle which some people might like, I don’t really care either way but it’s good to think about different audience tastes. Kirsty (Sarah Hobbs) is more of a silly girl but maybe she’ll grow up if she lives that long.

There are some good performances from the male actors too. Rich Sandford is very good at James Kelly, he’s a memorable character and there’s lots of detail in his performance. Phil Ely plays lots of roles and they’re all different.

It would have been nice to see more of the dead bodies, there’s been lots of very ambitious gore on online plays like Titus Andronicus (I’m not usually into Shakespeare apart from Bottom, Pompey Bum, Dr Butts, Coriolanus and all that lot but Titus is hilarious!) but I guess not everyone has ketchup and fake body parts lying around so I’ll let them off.

So it’s a good play and the South Devon Players did a really good job at adapting the way the play was produced in just a few days. They’ve ended up with a quality production.

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