True crime is hot right now – cat killers, kidnappers, you name it and Netflix has made a documentary about it.
So, writer Tatty Hennessy is on the money in deciding to base her new play, Something Awful, on the 2014 Slender Man stabbing, when two 12-year-old girls conspired to kill their friend in the woods.
The same Creepypasta website that inspired the true story is also at the heart of this tale, though it doesn’t steal our attention quite as it should.
Soph, played by Natalya Martin, sits hunched over her laptop screen, reading out grotesque forum posts and getting a kick out of watching disturbing videos. It’s a shame the audience does not see these videos. We catch glimpses of a black screen and hear a few feeble attempts at freaky sound effects, but an opportunity genuinely to spook the audience is missed.
Martin is convincing as Soph, the spiky, self-proclaimed internet geek, but sometimes stumbles over her lines.
Compulsive liar Ellie (Melissa Parker) is hard-faced and overbearing, though it is difficult to imagine her graduating from schoolyard bully to teen killer. Jel (Monica Anne) is a bit of a drip, which makes her the perfect victim.
A clever moment of female bonding, heightened by an intimate, in-the-round staging, is created when Soph gets her period for the first time – Martin removes her hands from between her legs to reveal them glistening with blood. This follows hysterical attempts to insert a tampon correctly. And these girls are wannabe killers?
While we start to see their darker sides emerge, Hennessy’s narrative arc makes little sense without the play’s true-crime context.