Pocket Sandwich Theatre is notorious for its goofy, corny, often blue, melodramatic interpretations of pop culture icons. Written by Joe Dickinson, “Jack the Ripper : the Monster of Whitechapel” is more subtle than PST’s usual popcorn-tossers, and in some ways, more satisfying. There’s more character development, more attention to plausibility, and every bit as much silliness. It’s clever but not as frantic as some of their more recent fare, with lots of shtick and opportunity for ridiculous glee. You might expect any play that begins with a masked “Ripper” poised in front of a Satanic altar to be over the top, but strangely enough, this spin is fairly well-paced, with a more temperate feel to it.
As any devotee can tell you, most PST shows begin with 2 thematically appropriate songs, in which the audience is encouraged to sing along with the cast, as they cavort, hither and yon, belting out the tunes with gobs of giddy gumption. In this case the tunes were : “Mack the Knife” and “Hit the Road Jack.” Afterwords it’s not long till the discovery of the first victim. The strange and effervescent cast of characters include a loopy gypsy with astrological clues to the culprits whereabouts, a balmy (if good-hearted) cook, a suffragette, a pompous police captain and a manservant who affects a cockney accent for the sake of preserving the British caste system. Prostitutes continue to bite the dust while the good guys cogitate and fumble, desperately trying to determine Jack the Ripper’s next move.
PST’s “Jack” is just the right balance of plot, hijinks, nudges to the audience and shameless puns. It’s surprising how enjoyable this departure from the frenetic was, it gave the actors lots of room bask in their roles without feeling rushed. And plenty of audience members the opportunity to heave popcorn. Normally the use of too many twists, too many red herrings cab wear really thin, but here, it worked very well, as we were obviously watching a spoof. The more pointless complications they heaped on, the more entertaining. Standouts amongst this especially talented menagerie of mental cases were: Kelly Moore Clarkson as Pegeen the Gypsy (Channel to the Veiled Realm of Sullen Spirits) Rhonda Durant as Misses Eddows, Chapman and Kelly (Resourceful and Energetic Escorts to the Stars) and Jake Shanahan as Phillip Poole (Dashing and Daring Butler, with a Quick Wit and Poised Saber).
Pocket Sandwich Theatre presents : Jack the Ripper : the Monster of Whitechapel, playing October 2nd- November 14th, 2015. 5400 East Mockingbird # 119, Dallas, Texas 75206. 214-821-1860.