2016 – Abberline’s Artefact

In 2016, Abberline’s Artefact became the first Polymorph Theatre production to be designed and directed by creative partner Penny Gkritzapi, and began what is now recognised as Polymorph’s distinctive style of production. The show began life as a collaborative research project while Jan and Penny were classmates studying for their respective MA degrees and morphed into their first joint Fringe project.


On the 31st of August, 1888, there was a murder in Whitechapel. Not the first, not even the first that month. Inspector Frederick George Abberline is called back to Whitechapel to lead the investigation into what became known as The Whitechapel Murders, to find the murderer now passed into folklore as Jack the Ripper.

He fails.

In 1929: after a long and distinguished career followed by a quiet retirement in Bournemouth, Frederick Abberline, the man who never caught Jack the Ripper, dies at 195 Holdenhurst Road. In the cellar of the house, Abberline leaves behind an object, an artefact from the Ripper investigation.

Now it’s 2016. Retired shopkeeper John Davis has been experiencing blackouts ever since he moved in. Ever since he found Abberline’s Artefact. Fearing that he is slowly going crazy, Davis is descending into panic and despair. Little does he know that by disturbing the Artefact he has set in train Abberline’s final search – not, this time, for the Ripper but for absolution. A ghost story within a ghost story, can Abberline lay his failure to rest? What if he could talk to the victims? What would they say to him?

Praise for Abberline’s Artefact

Having been cut down from a full length stage presentation, the Fringe production of Abberline’s Artefact received very strong praise both from audience and industry.

  • “I’ve written books about the Whitechapel Murders. I couldn’t catch this show out in a single historical inaccuracy. Well done!”
  • “The ongoing narrative is captivating and Van Der Black’s emotional and gripping performance holds the audience rapt”
  • “The switches between Davis and Abberline are both subtle and remarkable”
  • “Atmospheric, and quite creepy. Beautiful use of lighting”

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