Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A straight play that plays on the premise of getting murderers in an institution you can play on the manipulation each practice. With a narrator being the ghost of one of the murderer’s victims you gain an insight into much more than the interplay of the criminally insane. This play sues the abilities of the cast to convince rather than trickery to engage. The mental health ethos of the company shines in terms of you not being able to spot the 1 in 4.
The script is a very competent piece of writing which allows each character to breath life into their performances. This does not have enlightening things to say about mental health or criminality but much to tell in terms of a story. It engages and you enjoy the piece as a piece of theatre.
The set adds much to the production and it was nice to see set being used. As it was it was functional in terms of allowing some backstage area and adding some more dirty white to the proceedings.
As a performance piece this had a lot to commend it. I have worked with students who are always eager to explore the macabre and this would fit because it is about manipulation rather than extreme characterisation. The extraordinary lives within and is hidden by the ordinary and the text allows the external pressures to become apparent on the internal relationships of each. I thought it worked well and would have liked to have seen the companion pieces.
As a play it adds little to its own genre apart from giving us some more Gothic horror that is of a reasonable standard and acted well –as this was – can be elevated to the point where you care about the most uncaring of people.
I enjoyed this piece well and think it sits comfortably within the pantheon of Gothic Horror whilst it was produced well and acted with aplomb. It entertained and kept you on your toes being able to balance the flashback narration with the present day manipulation of sick men in an equally sick institution. The audience was almost full and very appreciative of the piece which gave it momentum.
The area where I felt it needed to improve was on elevating it from the complete simplicity of how one man manipulates another to an end as yet unknown. We get to understand the deviousness of one mind but I wanted to know about the long term effects upon the others. I thought we might get that when the jailor was ensnared but that wasn’t explored and applause erupted before we got any form of intriguing developments. The irony of the Murder Club existing in one man’s mind that convinced another man’s mind was intriguing but I could have done with more of it. It leads me to a 3 star but a decent rewrite could get further up the star rating.
Considering the origins of the Company I was desperate for this to score higher but that would be condescending. I have ni doubt that the company will return with better work – even though they have been in existence since 1997 – and the mental health work they enjoy can be shared with a better basis.