MILLERS COURT a collective work scripted by Roxanne Deans, directed by Adam Lazarus, with Dan Curtis, Deans, Jennifer Gillespie, Jorge Molina and Jen Radomsky. Presented by Red Letter Theatre and Schmigeggy Productions at Nightwood (9 St. Nicholas). Runs to June 29, Thursday-Friday at 8 pm. $15. 416-837-2001. Rating: NNN
we know about jack the ripper. We don't know much about the women he killed. Roxanne Deans's Millers Court, based on collective research and improvs by the company, and directed by Adam Lazarus, traces the hypothetical last hours of Mary Jane Kelly, a prostitute who was the elusive Ripper's final victim.Deans and Lazarus rely on several theatre styles -- masked melodrama, realistic dialogue, stylized movement -- that aren't always smoothly integrated, especially in a few rough shifts in tone from 1888 to today. Sometimes the group's choral work is heavy-handed rather than sharp.
But there are well-conceived episodes and even better acting, notably by Dan Curtis as both Mary's former lover and a barman and Jorge Molina as a paperboy and a scary pub pickup.
Strongest of all is Jennifer Gillespie as the pregnant Mary, desperate to find the rent money.
She radiates a commanding intensity and determination to remain true to herself, alternately philosophical, practical, sensual, compassionate and enticing as the situation demands.
Deans saves her best piece of writing for last -- Mary's final monologue, a description of her death in the first person, both gory and objective. It's a bold way to end the piece, and Gillespie gives it a properly chilling reading.