Jack and I: The Jack the Ripper Musical

On the hottest day of the year, the Warren was worlds apart from the shady alleyways of Victorian London. But it’s amazing what a fog machine and some well-placed spotlights can do to transport you into a different era. The sun-kissed audience shivered as the story began to unfold – the hunt for Jack the Ripper was on.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this refreshing piece of musical theatre making its way towards bigger stages

The Ripper’s macabre handiwork has captured the imagination of generations ever since making his (or her) debut in the streets of Whitechapel in 1888. Doctors, butchers, royals, Polish immigrants and midwives have all been accused of the murders. What could there possibly be left to say – or sing – about Jack the Ripper?

Meet Inspector Frederick Abberline from the London Metropolitan Police, who is working against and around the clock to catch the killer. No wonder he begins to feel the strain. Vivid dream sequences and demons in his head make the Inspector question everything and accuse everyone, including his devoted wife, Emma. Here men are weak, lustful creatures of habit and women stand strong, in control of their own destiny. Except when being confronted by the Ripper, of course.

Daniel Henry Kaes’ playful script concentrates cleverly on the human side of catching the killer. It operates on Freudian undertones with some pure Twin Peaks moments that would make David Lynch proud. Strong musical numbers with witty lyrics and clever modern day references carries the script from start to finish while constantly poking fun at musical theatre and detective story clichés.

The stars of the show were the increasingly dazed and confused Inspector, the motherly Madame who runs a brothel and the independent, yet tied down wife Emma. The vocals were mainly excellent and the cast of seven largely pulled off the double, sometimes even triple roles. A few castings were slightly off, but the jokes were funny, the singing in key and the punchlines hit the spot.

On paper, this should never work, but with clever writing, brave casting and a great soundtrack they pulled it off. Musicals are experiencing a revival with the success of La La Land, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this refreshing piece of musical theatre making its way towards bigger stages.

So, did they catch the killer in the end? Yes and no. Maybe. See for yourself.

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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The Blurb

Punchline Theatre’s five-star dark comedy musical makes its Brighton Fringe premiere! 1888, and Inspector Abberline is faced with the seemingly impossible task of satisfying his boss, the media, the public, his wife and his own peace of mind. Oh, and there’s an equally impossible killer on the loose - most inconvenient. In the depravity of Victorian London, where nothing is what it seems, how do you find a needle in a haystack?