Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
The unsolved case of Glasgow serial killer Bible John is the context for this production centred on the particular concept of women with an interest in true crime. Bible John engages in some respects – especially as it explores the horrific murders, but can feel aggressive, preachy and less accessible as it moves into its final act.
Bible John sees four office workers (Ella McLeod, Laurie Ogden, Lauren Santana and Caitlin McEwan – the latter also writes the play) stumble upon their shared obsession for a particular true crime podcast. They soon begin their own research to coincide with that of each weekly podcast episode to tackle the still unsolved case of Bible John.
Opening with a voice-over that sees women discussing Making a Murderer and Serial, and dipping in with anecdotes about their favourite serial killers. The tone is set for this project which explores women’s relationship with the true crime genre – with our four protagonists appearing to describe ‘the type’ of women that enjoy such podcasts. As Bible John launches into its narrative we see that the four leads bounce off each other with an amusing and natural chemistry. Their shared excitement about these grisly crimes has a self-aware macabre humour keeping the tone of Bible John light and engaging (despite subject manner) in these early stages.
Yet as the Bible John case remains unsolved, there are no prizes for predicting the ending of the podcast and the girl’s subsequent disappointment – with all their invested time wasted. It’s here when Bible John makes a narrative shift with the story turning into a recreation of Glasgow’s Barrowlands (Bible John’s hunting ground). Here, things get a little trippy and performance art focussed. The shift to a more alternative style after a somewhat conventional structure in the first act makes Bible John feel tonally disjointed.
Whilst Bible John does pay tribute to the serial killer’s victims in a humble and well-intentioned manner, it becomes somewhat uncomfortable in its final moments. Jumping on the soapbox, the show notes the lack of female serial killers – with our stars suggesting a call to arms, for women to commit violent crimes and gain the notoriety of their male counterparts. The show becomes a far cry from the amusing, more rigidly structured piece showcased in its first half. It all feels a bit disjointed and juvenile with a lack of insight.