Reviewed by Diana Eccleston for The Croydon Advertiser
On the knife edge of murder
A jolly, bawdy musical about such an unpleasant subject as the horrific mutilation and murder of a group of women sounded pretty tasteless to me.
But Coulsdon Theatre Workshop won me over with their exuberant production of Jack The Ripper.They make a good stab (if you’ll excuse the grisly pun!) of recreating the characters who populated the sleazt backstreets and music halls of the East End of London in 1888.
Mark Hobbs directs with gusto and there is first class accompaniment from Mark Taylor at the piano, with some of the numbers enjoyably foot-tapping.
The hideous killings by the fiend of Whitechapel and fear which stalks the whores who are his prey are here acted out within the framework of the Steampacket Music Hall.
Richard Lloyd’s vivid portrayal of the girls’ hard-drinking pimp Daniel Mendoza sets the standard for the rest of the cast, dominating his scenes with earthy ribaldry and a hint of menace of the Bill Sykes variety.
Tatiana Allison as Marie Kelly is a comely leading lady, a fiery little Scot with a pretty voice and a flair for melodrama. Her street-walking chums are well played by Rachel Handler, Kimberley Argles, Alison Illingworth, Lesley Argles and Louise Pennell, though they do look rather too clean and well dressed in some cases.
Lisa Boniface is a bit too refined as Lizzie Stride, the woman who provides lodgings for the tarts at fourpence a night, but I liked her cameos as the music hall’s Queen Victoria.
Bruce Montgomery gives a sinister presence to Montague Druitt, the do-gooder from Toynbee Hall who tries to get Marie to change her ways, while Tim Young is the jovial music hall chairman.
Chris Argles, Robert Del Toro, Nathan Moughtin, Mike Brown and Paul M Ford are a suitably motley bunch of layabouts as Daniel’s boozing mates, rough and ready with the dirty remarks.
There is a good deal of attention to detail in the show, although one or two modern hairstyles are in evidence. And the company are particularly to be congratulated on some good singing.
There are further performances of Jack The Ripper tonight (Friday) at 8 pm and on Saturday at 3 and 8 pm at Coulsdon Youth and Social Centre, Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon.
Robert Del Toro
Paul M Ford
Paul M Ford
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