'Early in the morning of September 1, Mary Ann Nichols was murdered under circumstances of a most revolting character.' After this immersive experience directed by Natasha Campbell of Crow Theatre, taking the audience deep into Victorian London, it's as if I knew her.
From London Bridge tube, we move to an undisclosed location. I would have enjoyed a little more background information en route – but we soon nip into an old railway tunnel, and are plunged into a Whitechapel street in the 1880s. Ladies and gents mingle among us, eyeing our bags ('It's unfair what they say about Dorset Street,' says one, 'we're good people'). Flat caps and silk scarves are bartered over; veg is sold at a 'penny a pound'. And in a busy pub, Mary and her friends argue over whether to go out that night.
Campbell's production is thick with drama and authenticity. The East End boozer is raucously realistic, and as Campbell's cast mutter among us, we begin to grow anxious for them – even if we don't quite reach their own level of fear.
The show connects us palpably with the past; it's much better than a trip to the London Dungeon.