Newspaper Review

The Croydon Advertiser on Friday, July, 12th, 1991.

One of the more amusing moments of the Phoenix Players’ production of Jack the Ripper came during the composition of hoax letter to the police chief.

Someone objected to signing it with the famous nom de plume on the grounds that “it will never catch on”.

Indeed, I have always marvelled that the butchery of a handful of human derelicts in Whitechapel should still continue to exert such fascination more than a century later.

Not that this in any way detracts from the enjoyment of Ron Pember and Denis de Maine’s lively musical, which we saw last week at West Norwood’s Nettleford Hall. Directed by Cliff Neal, the show was framed in a music hall setting and with Montague Druitt — one of the real Ripper suspects — as the villain.

The casting of Geoff Keep in this role was highly effective, for he stood out, in his opera cloak, top hat and deathly make-up, as a genuinely sinister visitor in the midst of the down-to-earth cockneys.

His was the role of avenging angel, a fanatic dedicated to the elimination of a plague. it was no accident that he also appeared in the guises of Marvel the Mystic and a hellfire preacher.

Musical director Anthony Calnan propelled the jolly score along with rhythmic verve, and the company threw themselves zestfully into the catchy numbers.

There were also sentimental numbers to vary the mood. Julia Stevens, as the wretched Mary Kelly, had a good rapport with Karen Flynn, whose flinty integrity as the rooming-house keeper Lizzie Stride set out the markers for the rough morality of period and area.

Also prominent in a well-integrated cast were Anthony Morris, as the rough pimp Daniel Mendoza, and Nick Daman, putting on the style as Chairman of the Steam Packet Music Hall.

Review by Donald Madgwick


Unfortunately we have no further records of this show. Were you in it or do you have an old program or photos from it? If so, please get in touch:

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