First of all: kudos to this show being thematically held at what is probably the most hidden away and dimly-lit venue of the Fringe.
‘Shreds: The Jack the Ripper Musical’ exposes the underbelly of London in the 19th century, and the bloody danger that swept through its back alleys, targeting sex workers. It is a well-conceived show, however, suffers from the short time limit and is obviously meant to go on for longer. Character relationships seem rushed or unfinished, and the conclusion is lacklustre as a result.
Prior knowledge of the infamous Ripper case would be beneficial before watching it, as several aspects of the story (such as the gay Duke subplot) are confusing and do not seem to add anything to the main narrative. This is especially a shame as they would have helped flesh out the whodunnit tension that is never satisfactorily resolved or investigated.
Though there are some solo performances that shine through, the company’s performance is strongest when they are an ensemble, their collective voices giving way to emotional and layered numbers. The music itself is great and catchy, moving the story along nicely. Some of the meta humour is a bit unnecessary, and disrupts the overall tone of the show from seriously bleak to parodic, meaning that it takes some time to get settled into the world. Nevertheless, the cast are confident and use the space well, and I really think will shine if given the luxury of a longer running time.
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