Jack and I: The Jack the Ripper Musical

The year is 1888, and Jack the Ripper is at large. Inspector Abberline is on the case trying to catch a murderer who is proving impossible to catch, all the while his frustrated wife drifts from him, his boss piles on the pressure, and the press whips up trouble from all sides.

The pairing of the subject matter and musical form was intriguing; would it take a serious stance on or satirise this string of gruesome Victorian murders? The answer is, in fact, a little of both. While the musical began with writer and composer Daniel Henry Kaes’ usual wit and forays into the absurd, the second act brought a darker, distinctly more intense energy. While slightly discordant with the rest of the piece, the shift in tone felt quite welcome and allowed the cast to show another facet of their performances. It’s interesting to consider what kind of a musical Jack and I would be if it fell conclusively on one side of the fence.

Jack and I was reminiscent of Kotis and Hollmann’s Urinetown, with the same knowing, quirky humour and ludicrous dialogue that pokes fun at musical theatre conventions and, in this case, murder mysteries as well. It packed in nods to the BBC’s incarnation of Sherlock, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and even Les Misérables, the latter of which inspired a particularly passionate number that cleverly lifted motifs from At the End of the Day.

The production boasted a very talented cast with great comedic timing and singing ability, whose performances were enhanced by particularly effective lighting design by Shaun McCreery. The piece as a whole was engaging throughout, and although its plot was convoluted and not every joke flew, there were plenty of laughs and a lot to enjoy in this production, from playful humour to amusing songs and eccentric characters, as well as some moments of real intensity. Overall, Jack and I proved to be a fun and clever piece of theatre with a lot of charm, and another success for Punchline Theatre.

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