Bible John review at the Pleasance, Edinburgh – ‘muddled exploration of true crime’
There’s no faulting the ambition of Poor Michelle’s new show. It sets out to tell the story of Bible John, the serial killer thought to have murdered three young women in Glasgow in the 1960s, who despite an extensive manhunt was never identified.
It also attempts to explore the fascination people have with accounts of true crime, with stories of gory murders, more often than not of women by men.
Caitlin McEwan’s play takes the form of fictional podcast in the serial mode about the unsolved case. The production switches between describing the details of the case, the three victims, the various suspects, and the decisions taken by police at the time.
This is all underscored by a palpable anger about the fear that women internalise and learn to live with. The three victims all encountered their killer while out dancing at the Barrowland Ballroom.
Their lives were brutally cut short, and their names forgotten. But these two impulses – to tell their story and to question the way we consume such stories – work against each other.
There’s also a lack of clarity in both the storytelling and the staging that further dilutes its impact. Lizzie Manwaring’s production rages but doesn’t offer much in the way of insight; it feels quite naïve at times.
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