An unlikely concoction of Victorian horror, American cop dramas of the 1950s and modern language proves a success in Jack and I, a new musical based on the story of Jack the Ripper. Sadly the performance is let down by poor production values, but Daniel Henry Kaes’s wry retelling of Detective Abberline’s investigation into the ladies of Whitechapel and their killer never fails to entertain.
There’s nothing quite so sure to kill the mood of a comedy thriller than its villainous lead doing his own set changes, which is exactly what the Ripper has to do in Jack and I. He has just murdered the latest in a string of London prostitutes but before the Ripper can sweep out in an appropriately dramatic fashion he must turn the tellingly amateur decorated boxes that form the set to move the action on from a back alley in Whitechapel to the belly of Scotland Yard.
What the design lacks in professional polish the cast make up with raw talent. They have impressive voices and act well, even holding it together when a tech outage less than a third of the way through leaves them to perform the rest of the musical acapella. Another young group might have refused to carry on but this cast continue without batting an eyelid and they’re so successful that no one in the audience really notices until an actor apologises at the end. We didn’t get to hear much of the music but the melodies are nice, though not catchy. Kaes’s success lies in the lyrics and the script between the songs where there are some really wonderful lines.
Tongue firmly in cheek, the cast tear through the bare bones of the legend of Jack the Ripper with pop culture references, sending up Les Mis and every period thriller ever seen on the BBC. Jack and I is enjoyable but someone really needs to give this talented bunch some money so they can afford some stagehands and a new set.
Jack and I is at C nova (Venue 145) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.