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  • Writer's pictureMaygan Forbes

He'd Murder Me review: A Ripper of a Secret

*** 3 STARS

Jack the Ripper as we know him to be. Or is it? When Jack (played by Richard Buck) recounts his life growing up in Huddersfield, he has strong memories of coming to terms with his sexuality and where that could lead him coming from a place with a small town mentality. But a chance encounter with the Yorkshire Ripper serves to leave him with a feeling of complicity and guilt to this day. A very unique retelling of a coming of age story that shows how the remnants of the hideous ripper crimes stains the town whilst also staining Jack's livelihood, just in a different way. Jack is haunted by the memory that the shame he wore for his sexuality caused him to keep an explosive secret. It's interesting because throughout the play I couldn't help but think the Yorkshire Ripper was a metaphor for the internalised shame Jack had grown up to believe. The snide comments from his family, the bullying at school, it all in some way contributed to a level of torment that lay dormant inside of him.

Written by James Nicholas, He'd Murder Me is a terrific new play that sheds light on the sinister debris that floats around the small town. The lack of stage design, in part fitting with the fringe aesthetic, but also hints to the lack of opportunities and colour in Jack's hometown. Where he comes from, it's bleak and miserable, so he moves to London. A big city known for its vibrancy, however the secret he holds within himself means that despite moving to a big city, the rot lingers. Nicholas is an excellent writer, I was kept engaged from start to finish and the sprinkling of humour worked well with the subject matter. The show is 45 minutes and within the time, it's saturated with action however I wish there was something more. Something to add to the grit of the plot, so far Nicholas has a fantastic base for a play to hopefully one day take on tour.

Buck as the tormented Jack is brilliant. In the style of the one man show, Buck relies on recreating the voices of those in his life who have contributed, either positively or negatively, to his shame. I thought it was a great showcase of Buck's acting talent to have him act out those voices on stage rather than rely on voiceovers. For a moment I forgot there was only one person acting on stage, Buck was able to play a begrudged father, a remorseful mother, and a spiteful bully - all in the space of the 45 minutes on stage.

What stood out the most for He'd Murder Me was the suffocation of Jack when he was in and out of Huddersfield. The whole atmosphere in the room was profoundly creepy. Set to a low hum sound that vibrated around the room, it heightened the tense foreboding feeling of something that isn't quite right. He'd Murder Me is a great play and I can't wait to see what Nicholas has in store for developing the play further.


Jack - Richard Buck

Creative Team:

Writer - James Nicholas

Producers - Blue Orange Arts

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