SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RIPPER MURDERS has been written by Brian Clemens and is deftly directed by Jesse Davis.
Numerous theories have been expounded about the identity of Jack the Ripper who committed heinous crimes against vulnerable women in White Chapel in the East East of London in the late 19th century. This play follows one line of thought leading to an astonishing denouement with political conspiracies and sinister suspects.
Act 1 finds Detective Sherlock Holmes talking to Sir Robert Anderson about “the brutal, barbaric Ripper murders. Sir Robert replies that it is “the work of a deranged mind’, Dr Watson, Sherlock’s assistant , describes it as ‘a riddle’.
Holmes has a letter written in the blood of his latest victim and says that they have “stumbled on something”. Holmes then meets widow and clairvoyant Mrs Kate Mead at a function. She tells him what she is seeing in her mind. There’s a man who is coming to his office who has valuable information. He must leave the party. After prevaricating Holmes takes her advise. He tells Mrs Mead ‘she has a talent’ to which she replies “it’s a curse’.
In Act 2 Holmes tells Dr Watson that he must find Annie Crooks who he describes as the ‘last missing link’.
A relationship develops between Holmes and Kate Mead. He tells her he ‘was foolish’ to which he replies he is ‘dedicated and cautious’.
Holmes tells Sir William that her instincts are uncanny and that ‘the Ripper is attacking the soft underbelly of the poor’. Also, ‘the bush is in the garden and not to be beaten around’. Further he remarks, ‘Justice is the eternal cleanser’.
Holmes finds Annie Crooks and asks her if she knows Mary Kelly. The pieces of the puzzle are put together. What is the connection? Place the Queen’s Doctor and the Prime Minister into the scenario and Holmes adds up all the clues.
A talented cast perform an assorted array of colourful characters.
Sherlock Holmes is played by John Willis-Richards who has to remember the bulk of the lines. He gives a confident, self assured performance demonstrating Sherlock’s powerful observations and analytical abilities. This Holmes is stylish, authoritative, and with just the right amount of emotion.
Credit goes to Sherlock’s colleague and also biographer Dr John Watson who is played by Peter David Allison. There is a good rapport between Willis-Richards and Allison.
Special mention needs to be made of Zoe Crawford’s fine performance as Kate Mead, the clairvoyant, with whom Holmes has a flirtation.
Sandra Bass impressed in her performance as the amusing Mrs Hudson. Sherlock’s landlady.
James Charles and David Stewart-Hunter played two distinguished gentlemen, Sir Robert Anderson and Sir William Gull who Holmes interacted with.
Mathew Carufel played the sinister John Netley.
A number of the cast did well doubling up and gave good performances in their roles. Peter Bertoni played the Stranger who turns up at Sherlock’s door and Bradbury, Warren Paul Glover played Saunders and Lord Salisbury, Douglas Spafford played a .Lamplighter, a Policeman and a Beggar, Celeste Loyzaga played Catherine Eddowes and Annie Crooks and Heaven-Cheyenne Campbell played Mary Kelly and a Young Woman.
The set design by Bronte Barnicoat was finely detailed. There were torn posters reading- Beware the Ripper and Ghastly Murder in the East End on the gas lit cobbled streets.
The main action took place in Sherlock’s living room. There were two chairs, a coat and hat rack, doors and red curtains on the window. There were brandy balloons and a decanter on the mantlepiece.
In Act 2 there were ropes hanging off a post on the side of the stage depicting the dockyards.
Costumes by Peter Henson were evocative of the Victorian era and were lavish. These included suits, capes, tuxedo jackets, waistcoat and top hat (worn by Sherlock) to the fetching salmon pink dress and hat worn by Kate Mead.
Lighting and sound design by Michael Schell with melodramatic music are effective in creating a pervading, sinister atmosphere which is palpable and provide for a heightened sense of foreboding.
It is elementary. Make your way to the Genesian Theatre for SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RIPPER MURDERS. It is a ripping good yarn.
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RPPER MURDERS is playing the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street until the 15th June, 2019. Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 4.30pm.
All photos by Craig O’Regan (c)