This powerful and intense one man show tells the story of Jacob Rubenstein, also known as Jack Ruby, the man who shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald just days after Oswald himself assassinated President Kennedy. His is a name that has been forgotten and his story left untold, but Clifford Barry questions Ruby’s treatment by the authorities and press in a direct monologue that gets to the very heart of Ruby’s character.
Ruby’s Chicago drawl is delivered consistently by Barry’s booming growl. The story is told through a series of one-sided conversations with Ruby’s prison guard, Mr Stevenson. He speaks about his hopes for his trial, his family and his past. This is a clever method of plotting Ruby’s life, focusing on certain moments that deepen his character. It is distressing to see this man, who at first is chatty and hopeful, breaking down into paranoia and madness while awaiting trial. Barry, who proves himself to be a strong and convincing actor, communicates his feeling of confinement with subtlety and delicacy.
The depth of research that went into this production shines through in Barry’s portrayal of the killer. Some of the script is even taken verbatim from Ruby’s trial, testimony and polygraph testing. Barry develops a character that is incredibly well rounded and complex and was thoroughly believable. As Ruby’s mental faculties begin to be questioned and his chatty persona breaks down into paranoia, Barry’s intensity is heightened to a climax. At some moments this verges on melodrama but mostly Barry portrays genuinely raw emotion.
Barry also plays other characters very briefly, breaking the brilliantly constructed direction of Ruby’s character, which was disappointing. Other than that, the show was deeply moving and disturbing with moments of intensely brilliant acting. This portrayal of a deluded man questions the very justice system we rely on. Was Jack Ruby a crackpot conspiracy theorist? A communist? A gangster? A psychotic killer? A patriotic hero? Barry leads us to these questions but leaves us to make up our own minds about this complicated and interesting man.