Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“Strong and Interesting Story Well Told by its Young Cast with Style and Imagination”

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Shreds- the Unknown Theatre Company , Venue 13 , August 22, 2019
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Shreds- the Unknown Theatre Company The Unknown Theatre Company is unknown to this site. The Companies menu to the left has 224 companies but no Unknown. Their website had a most recent update 17th January 2017.

Nonetheless, three reviewers stepped off the well-worn track to get themselves to Venue 13. This does not come easy. So commendations to the Cardiff-based company. It may have been the wonder of word-of-mouth or sheer energy on the ground.

Either way the Unknown Theatre Company has ceased to be unknown on the record of the Fringe.

From the Wee Review

“Despite the show’s title, Shreds isn’t really about the Ripper. His actions are really just the context for the story. Instead, The Unknown Theatre Company present a look at Victorian society where women are not safe walking the streets at night, constantly wrapped around the little fingers of their male counterparts. It is a thought-provoking and well performed piece that mostly achieves what it sets out to do.

“Shreds is an inventive showcase that cuts loose and delivers a solid musical based around the crimes of one of history’s most infamous killers. Volatile relationships and compromise map onto the setting of a darkened, dangerous London. The hazy lighting allows the performers to disappear into the fog as they back away off the stage. There is no real set to speak of, yet the story is very evocative of London in the 1880s, making for an absorbing travel back in time.

“The play is clever in leading you to believe that several of the male characters could be the murderer. He represents the figment of patriarchy that threatens and oppresses women, the female characters coming across strongly in the face of this threat. The young cast capture this environment with frightening realism, every one of them giving their all as they succumb to the horror show of the Ripper’s crimes.”

“This is a strong and interesting story well told by its young cast. It finds a relevance for the modern world, telling its tale with style and imagination. Well worth a look for musical fans.”

The Edinburgh Fringe Review sent two reviewers. Reviewer #1 was critical of the structure but warm on other aspects: “excellent direction from James Williams. Stand-out performances are from Zoe Martin (Rachel), Alice Eklund (Rose) and Andrew Machin the police inspector.”

Reviewer #2 too had a critique but also saw things to like: “A small space with very limited options for set and staging is used inventively: a scene near the start in which the two leads are seen in bed together is creatively staged with members of the cast holding up sheets and pillows around them, and there are some lovely moments of background ensemble work while other characters sing.

“Some of the songs are surprisingly delicate and beautiful for a show which seems to be billed as a rip-roaring look at the East End: ‘Come To This’ is a traditional folk-infused lament which suits Kay brilliantly and which I would listen to again any time.”

Audience members who left their feedback were enthusiastic.

“Fantastic score, simply stunning vocal performances throughout. An interesting and entertaining take on the story of Jack the Ripper.”

“This show has a strikingly good score, a bit reminiscent of that of Sweeney Todd and other dark 19th century musicals, but distinct in its own right. The vocal writing is particularly beautiful. According to the program notes, the piece was trimmed down from a 2+ hour version, and the resulting story is sometimes disjointed and hard to follow.

“Nonetheless the core romance is compelling, and if you can put up with a few confusing book digressions the show is well worth the descent down the Mile to Venue 13.”

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Audience comments taken from

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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