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Review: Ripper at Hills St Theatre - Ed Fringe

Review by Olivia Ruggiero

Ripper at Hill St Theatre opens with a maniacal monologue by our anti-hero (very much an anti-hero), Jack the Ripper. An infamous historical figure who needs no introduction. This new musical adaption of the workings of Jack the Ripper is a 3-hander performed by John Christopher, Shannon Daly and Owen Redmond.

The opening certainly sets the tone for the piece, with a high intensity level, and grim red lighting casting shadows across the stage. There is no doubt this rock musical has a dark tone, as it should, but the initial moments of the show seem a little forced. There seems to be an element of wanting to shock the audience just for the sake of it or trying to force fear, rather than creating it in a clever and subtle way as the piece goes on. There is great embodiment of the character of Jack the Ripper – his deranged state obvious and his murderous intentions are clear. The solo song that ends the first scene is perhaps not vocally the easiest choice for this actor, but the song itself has great potential. It does however feel a little pointless as it does not move the character forward in any way and essentially serves the same purpose as the opening monologue. Perhaps the lyrics to this can be thought out more for the next iteration of the show, to give the Ripper more purpose and character development in this opening scene.

Shannon Daly has a lovely voice, but her character lacks clarity and it seems she is there only for her shocking death at the end (which, if you know your ripper history is not that shocking – it’s clear to those who know the Ripper murders that this is in fact Mary Jane Kelly). Her exchanges with the police officer in charge of the Ripper case lack chemistry and there is not much driving the dialogue between them – it seems only there to fill time in the show. It would be nice to see more relationship build between these two characters, so that the audience is more empathetic towards her untimely demise in the end. Her song however, is certainly the bets in the show and the most well-written, however the lead in is lacklustre and perhaps this transition could be tighter.

The plot twist at the end of the show, that Jack the Ripper was in fact a split personality of the police officer in charge of his case, is a great concept and I feel that with a little more work and fleshing out of the characters, it would work exceptionally well. There are moments in the show that are confusing, like when the police officer investigates a body (Daly covered by a sheet), but doesn’t make it clear who he has found, so the audience thinks it might be Mary, then she appears alive and well in the next scene, only to be murdered herself 5 minutes later. This show has potential and with a little more work, perhaps would be a fascinating new take on the Ripper legend.

Image Supplied


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