Ripper at Times Scare A Different take on Jack the Ripper
By: Patrick Christiano
In his new horror play, Ripper, playwright Jacob Marx Rice imagines an ambitious female reporter coming face to face with Jack the Ripper. While investigating his crimes, she accidentally stumbles upon the killer just after he has slashed the throat of his third victim. Horrified, when the killer reveals himself to her, the two begin a complex game as the reporter Gillian, played by Dina Cataldi, continues tracking his sting of murders.
Convinced she can outwit Jack, played by Eamon Goebel, before he can murder again, Gillian begins working on an exclusive series of stories chronicling the London serial murderer, who is preying upon London’s prostitutes circa London 1888, for a newspaper owned by her father and run by her brother played by Thomas Daniels.
The play, a different take on Jack the Ripper, was actually a lot of fun but doesn’t go far enough. Ripper, a gruesome tale of the never solved murders of Jack the Ripper, unfolds as a brisk 75 minute melodrama that doesn’t set the stakes high enough. Set in 1888 London, there is another level that hasn’t been played or explored by the director or the writer. The motivations of Jack, and especially Gillian, are not specific enough in this entertaining, yet tepid production. There needs to be more tension and menace. And why doesn’t Gillian shoot at the Ripper, when she has the chance? That she doesn’t even fire the gun at him is implausible.
This Ripper needs to expose more of the character’s driving force for the tale to fully succeed. And more blood please. No one spills their guts here, figuratively and literally, they don’t bleed real blood in director Joseph Robinson’s pleasantly engaging Ripper. Things are alluded to, but never fully brought to light.
Design of the streets of Victorian London and the publishing office were minimal with a few nice lighting effects for some of the more scary street scenes.
The acting was uniformly good. For the most part everyone played truthfully and had the right idea. The actors, however, need to take their performances to the next level. The character’s inner motivations are not clear and this could be a writing issue.
Eamon Goebel was a likeable, charming and calculating Jack without playing the underlying evil of savoring his murders. Dina Cataldi was a lovely Gillian, however everything was too easy, and I never felt her terror when coming face to face with the Ripper and possible death. Molly Thomas and Courtney McClellan were the lovely ladies of the night terrorized by the Ripper. Alex Simmons confidently played several characters. His detective investigating the case was strong and sure of himself, however, a more definite distinction between the characters would have been more memorable.
Creative Team: Dina Cataldi (Producer), Amanda Nelson (Producer), Joseph Robinson (Director and Sound Designer), Jacob Marx Rice (Author), Jolene Noelle (Dramaturg), Mitchell McCoy (Fight Director), Amy Sutton (Costume Designer), Danny Morales (Stage Manager), Alex Giordano (Makeup), Ella Hall (Technical Supervisor).
Ripper continues to run at the Elektra Theatre at Times Scare, 669 8th Avenue, between 42nd & 43rd Street, for two more performances Thursday October 29th, 2015 at 11pm and a special show on Halloween. For more information, please visit: http://timesscarenyc.com/shows/ripper/
FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER