HE’D MURDER ME
Blue Orange Theatre, Monday 23rd July, 2018
James Nicholas’s one-act one-hander tells the story of Jack, a young man who grew up in Huddersfield during the time of the Yorkshire Ripper murders. Jack, it transpires, is gay, a fact he is compelled to keep secret because his world is steeped in violent homophobia.
Richard Buck is Jack in this challenging piece. He is an affable narrator, dipping in and out of characters swiftly and with precision, using gesture, voice and stance to depict the host of people that form Jack’s story. This economic style is so effective; we can picture each person so vividly. Jack is haunted by the Yorkshire Ripper, who contributed to making his teen years so terrifying, and, as the tale unfolds, we come to understand exactly why. Buck is superb and doesn’t miss a beat.
Director Ian Craddock keeps Buck moving – the stage is full of him. Changes of location and mood are subtly signalled through lighting changes but Craddock allows the power of his actor to keep us engaged in this tale of coming-of-age without coming-out. Nicholas’s beautifully detailed writing builds to a shattering revelation. The enforced keeping of a secret – homosexuality, I mean – can have devastating effects on the secret-keeper, with long-lasting effects on mental health and wellbeing. In Jack’s case, it is truly a matter of life and death.
Absorbing, gripping and emotional with a magnetic performance from Richard Buck, this is a fine piece of theatre that deserves a larger audience.