Paul M Ford
Technical Crew Details:
Paul M Ford
Reviewed by Diana Eccleston for The Croydon Advertiser
This rip-roaring musical, inspired by arguably Britain’s most notorious serial killers, has become a favourite with theatre Workshop Coulsdon.
Returning to it for a third time – this one in the ambient gardens of their local watering hole – they claim it is ideally suited to the group’s “rough and ready charms” since it is a “rumbustious down-and-dirty” delivery rather than a need for operatic voices which carries it along.
TWC do themselves an injustice by suggesting they are less than able singers since everyone involved supplied great vocals, even when the taped backing decided to play up.
The subject matter of the murderer who stalked the dark backstreets of London’s East End some 120 years ago may not be to everyone’s taste.
But I love this musical as it provides terrific scope for colourful characterisations while needing only moderate sets and costumes. And the songs – especially Ripper’s Going To Get You – are foot-tappingly memorable.
TWC’s cast looked great with effective costumes, and I appreciated the fact that many of the men had taken the trouble to cultivate their own Victorian style sideburns, beards and moustaches. That’s what I call great attention to dramatic detail.
Still no-one knows for sure the identity of the real villain who sliced up the Whitechapel whores, with theories ranging from Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of Clarence to Jill the Mad Midwife.
The show exposes some of the suspects, with the finger finally pointed at Montague Druitt. He is depicted as a do-gooder, pretending to help the tarts while secretly bumping them off one by one.
Bruce Montgomery invested the role with an elegance and shadowy menace while in contrast Richard Lloyd was a powerful and very watchable Bill Sykes-like presence as the girls’ thuggish pimp Daniel Mendoza.
There was plenty of comedy with the illiterate Daniel and his cronies (played by Neil Grew, Paul Ford, Mike Brown and Tim Young), notably during the segment where they drew up a letter to the police incriminating Druitt.
Another comedy highlight was the line-up of coppers dressed as women to act as decoys for the Ripper.
Chris Blakeney shone as the multi-personality chairman. Tanya Allison was a sparky Marie Kelly, Emma griffin a blond bimbo as Annie Chapman and Kimberley Argles a buxom Lizzie Stride, who also portrays the music hall Queen Victoria.