Group Clifford Barry
Venue theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Event Website http://www.cliffordbarry.co.uk/jac…;
Date 19-24 August
Duration 50 minutes
Country of Origin England
Despite the assertion in the title I hadn’t realised how little I knew of Jack Ruby before seeing this show! Of course I knew that Ruby was the man who gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected assassin of President Kennedy. Like many I’ve even seen footage of Ruby shooting him in the Dallas Police Department. I’ve also heard some of the mafia/communist conspiracy theories.
This compelling one-man performance shows Ruby the man. The monologue is delivered in a flawless Chicago accent (Ruby grew up there and returned after brief stints in California and the armed forces) before moving to Dallas. Ruby is shown as a man with many problems. He came from a disturbed family background. His father was an alcoholic and his mother spent time in mental institutions. Jack himself spent time in juvenile detention and foster homes.
His attitude toward the women who worked for him in his Carousel strip-joint seemed psychotic and his fawning attitude toward authority is depicted brilliantly through a one-sided dialogue with his prison guard.
At times Ruby seems delusional spinning conspiracy theories with fantastic plots against Jews. Jack Ruby was born Jacob Rubenstein in 1911, one of eight children of Jewish parents who had left Poland. The audience hears of the Nazi style views of LBJ and his intent to destroy Israel. As a counterpoint Ruby himself was to become the focus of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. On stage he castigates the John Birch Society who accused him of being a Communist.
Scenes are broken up with lights off and snatches of music from the era or news reports. It is somehow discomforting to hear songs like the bitter sweet ‘The Good Life’ sung by Tony Bennett after hearing Ruby.
The show is meticulously researched drawing on evidence from the testimony given by Ruby to the Warren Commission and notes smuggled out of prison amongst much else. It convinces you that Ruby was a troubled man, prone to violence who was angered by the assassination and believed he would be considered a hero for what he had done. If it were not for latent antisemitism and a desire on the part of the embarrassed Dallas authorities to be seen to take action perhaps he would have been. Let’s not forget that the first reaction of the crowd when told of the shooting of Oswald was to applaud.
This show is engrossing on so many levels, almost overwhelming in the amount of information packed into every expression, gesture and phrase. Clifford Barry is utterly convincing as Jack Ruby.
Reviewed by Pat Harrington