Review: Walking With God
Written by ExTS Reviewer Pippa Meaker
Advisory – Not for the faint hearted. Content not suitable for children. Due to the historic nature of St Nicholas Priory, unfortunately the upper floors are not accessible to wheelchair users – where the performance takes place. Each show runs at approximately 70 minutes without an interval. The venue is part heated but being an old historic building, it is advisable to wrap up warm.
Having had a macabre interest in the Ripper story for many years I was looking forward to this immensely. Shadow & Substance Theatre’s website promises their audience ‘A journey through hell...’ with their ‘reimagining of the frequently told Ripper story’. On arrival the box office is staffed with characters in costume and our ticket is an old penny. Nice touch. There was then the surprise (to me at least) of a bar installed in the Priory’s old cellar – make sure you bring cash as no cards.
We are then led up to the upper floor, the staircase appropriately dimly lit, and into the room where the performance is to take place. Being in such an historic location (St Nicholas Priory is Exeter’s oldest building and was home to Benedictine Monks for over 400 years) is perfect for this tale and we enter and get to our seats under the watchful eye of Queen Victoria.
Whilst many are familiar with the story of Jack the Ripper (or Leather Apron as he was also titled), this is a re-imagining written by Midge and Rosie Mullin, who also perform in the production. As such I will avoid any spoilers. Our first narrator is Stephen Adams, dapper and suave and keen to show off his beautiful singing voice, and nicely executed (excuse the word) by Richard Pulman. We are provided with the back stories of Jack’s victims and get to meet prostitute Mary Jane Kelly, beautifully played by Jola Pawlikowska. Mary helps us to empathise with these women who were victims of circumstance as well as the Ripper. The frustrations of Detective Inspector Donald Swanson are tangible and he is well portrayed by Midge Mullin. Al Wadlan, as the incarcerated John William Smith Sanders is scratching and restless in his insanity and makes the audience feel exactly the right level of uncomfortable. Indeed, the whole cast is strong and keep you glued to your seat, a dream sequence midway through is a stand out moment.
I attended this knowing quite a bit about the Ripper tale and thoroughly enjoyed this reworking, my friends who knew little of the story enjoyed it equally. I would thoroughly recommend this; after all who wouldn’t be interested in watching a retelling of a macabre history set in an iconic and history-steeped building? Oh yes, the faint hearted…
Further performances Wed 20th Nov and Thurs 21st Nov and Wed 27th Nov – Fri 29th Nov at 7pm and 9pm. General admission £10 (plus a small booking fee if buying online).
Tickets on sale via Ticket Source (or on the door). Please note that it is advisable to check ticket sales on line in advance if buying on door to ensure they are not sold out.