Review: Jack the Ripper’s London

Jack the Ripper’s London is an immersive piece that plunges you into the world of 1880s London.  There is a nice base idea here and Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel has been recreated beautifully but the lack of narrative and structure throughout the piece ultimately lets it down.

The immersive action starts by leading the audience into the world of Jack the Ripper from an explanatory and historical standpoint. However, you are quickly thrust into a world where the hand that leads you has disappeared and where the action around you is chaotic. The confusion is nice for a short period of time but the audience is never again quite sure of what they should be doing and what is ‘allowed’ in this world that has been created for them. This unease is in part due to a lack of narrative and story during this section but it is also due to a lack of control and comfort in how the actors interact and lead the disorientated (and exceptionally reserved) audience.

Currently the acting is theatrical and dramatic and it would suit a more understated, realistic approach. There are often numerous actors fighting for your attention and this could be relaxed, especially vocally. I found myself most drawn to the actors who said or did very little as their ease and understanding created a security for me in a world where so much was new and unexplained. I liked that there were numerous characters to interact with but I would have preferred it if the experience had been more natural and personal. There was an element of forcing the audience to understand rather than allowing that satisfying feeling of working something out for yourself. It can feel a bit story by numbers if key plot names and characters are continually pointed out to you.

This is not a bad piece but it would greatly benefit from further development and a rewrite. The world of Jack the Ripper has been created beautifully by a strong, clear and wonderful set, but the heart of the piece has been somewhat neglected.

Jack the Ripper’s London by Crow Theatre is taking place at London Bridge. For more information and tickets, see the Crow Theatre website.

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