Since the beginning of time, women have been marginalized in history – particularly those on the fringes of society. The Unfortunates highlights one such woman, in a matter-of-fact, humorous and empathetic story that never loses its sense of existential dread and horror. We know from the beginning that nothing good will happen to Mary Jane Kelly once she leaves the deserted pub, and we empathize with her hard-luck existence and the measures she’s been forced to take to keep herself alive. Beautifully written, directed and acted, The Unfortunates looks back on a dark time in history and the first tabloid serial killer. Aoise Stratford’s darkly funny and disturbing one-woman play is intelligently directed by Kurt Johns and wonderfully performed by Gail Rastorfer, resulting in a most memorable 85 minutes. Director Johns, also the artistic director of Solo Chicago, is adept with guiding solo performances and interpreting one-actor scripts, and his impressive skill set is on full display in The Unfortunates.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Rating: ★★★½ - Lauren Whalen, Chicago Theatre Beat Read More
Despite the knowledge that this is a solo performance, director Kurt Johns has staged this play with so much variety and such a threatening air of mystery that he’s kept us on the edge of our seats. SoloChicago has another hit to its credit, on the recent heels of their previous excellent production of “Churchill.” Kurt Johns has found an exciting, spine-tingling play that’s deserving of this company’s typically professional production. It’s a captivating portrait of a real person, a strong, admirable survivor who becomes much more than a mere statistic as Jack the Ripper’s last victim. And in Gail Rastorfer’s hands, guided by Kurt Johns and his gifted technical team, this play is an absolute must-see, guaranteed to bring chills to a warm summer Chicago night.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review
"POWERFULLY REALISTIC...Aoise Stratford's The Unfortunates is the story of one woman's struggle through the violence and atrocities that women faced in 1800's Victorian London. The set is fantastically eerie, thick fog giving way to dark figures lurking in the shadows. One of those figures could very well be Jack the Ripper – the prostitute killing mutilator who shows no mercy for his victims. Artfully directed by Kurt Johns, the 85-minute play is evocative with this historical tale, offering a storehouse of information on how people and societies behaved in the seedy underbelly of London in 1888."
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Stacey L. Crawley, ShowBizChicago
The Unfortunates, staged by the new SoloChicago Theatre Company, is an excellent second outing from the company that produced the hit one-man show, Churchill, starring Ronald Keaton, in 2015...Rastorfer, skillfully directed by Kurt Johns, is a convincing Mary Jane, sometimes gay and chatty and sometimes wrenchingly sad and fearful. She portrays, with voice, manner and gesture, all the other characters in her life. The 85-minute play at Theater Wit is a history lesson and a human story.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Nancy Bishop, Third Coast Review
Victims of serial and mass killers are often thought to be people who were simply unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and therefore, to prevent future atrocities, a greater study should be made of the killer. Stratford seems interested in challenging that idea, in as much as that Jack the Ripper’s victims were recognized even in their own time as people who had been written off and undervalued, and therefore, their targeting was not totally random and Victorian London had some soul-searching to do. Getting into the habit of listening to people like Mary Jane Kelly may be one of the most potent ways to prevent repeats of what happened to her. At the very least, with Rastorfer’s performance, it’s a fine way to pass the time in its own right.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, MUST SEE! - Jacob Davis, ChicagoCritic Read More