At least, that is what the promotional material and
the rejected ads read. Im not sure I would have gotten the
same message out of Sharon Pollocks 1993 play, Saucy
Jack, now in only its second professional performance at the
Theatre & Company in Kitchener.
-----Pollock, much-laurelled playwright of such gripping historical dramas as Fair Libertys Call (Stratford, 1993), has extensively researched the circumstances, autopsies, and suspicions surrounding the infamous Jack the Ripper murders in 1888, and woven a plausible, but confusing, tale of a possible encounter after the fact. Three friends, each possibly responsible, are gathered. James "Jem" Kenneth Stephen (played by Alan K. Sapp) has invited Crown Prince Albert "Eddie" (Mike Peng) and Montague Druitt (Andrew Lakin) to a confrontation. He has engaged an actress, Kate (Linda G. Bush), to portray each of the five middle-aged and destitute women, Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Long Liz, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelley, viciously murdered and eviscerated in the dark streets of Whitechapel. The play-acting is supposed to draw out a confession, but none is forthcoming, nor are any reasons explored for these hideous acts.
-----Nothing is accomplished, nothing resolved, nothing new unearthed. There is a dearth of humour, no suspense, little action, and no sympathy elicited for victims or suspects. If you have an abiding interest in this macabre subject, then go and immerse yourself in it. Otherwise, why?
-----The moral, Women are killed because they can be? Ridiculous. So are men. So are children. The lesson history teaches us in the Jack the Ripper case is that worthless people are at the mercy of those in power. It only remained for Ms Pollock to give it an oportunistic feminist twist, a twist not needed, and not appreciated. A play, in fact, not needed and not appreciated.
-----Saucy Jack is playing at the Theatre & Companys Water Street Theatre (King Value Centre) in Kitchener, until November 18. Tickets are $15 or less. Call 519-571-0928; and let me know if you agree.