Scottish Detective and TV personality David Swindle stars in this personal monologue exploring the profiles of some of the most notorious serial killers in the country. Guillermo Nazara reviews this montage currently on tour across the UK, to dissect (and maybe butcher) this show by the man who caught one of the most ruthless murderers in the last years.
Are we going to appall you with something confidential and disgusting? Let’s hope so – because that is what you really like… Yes, we all do love an old good murder indeed. It may be the gossip, it may be the mystery, or perhaps the fact that it triggers that little killer dwelling within us (mine has grown bigger over the years, though – the killer, I mean, nothing immoral). The London scene is well known for its blood thirst, the success of The Mousetrap proving my point by 70 years of Americans believing Brits are all like that. But what’s not so usual is to have the actual characters (at least, one of them) performing their truth onstage. Because this is no show per se, it’s a lecture on reality – a terrifying, gruesome reality. If that’s what you want to hear, well, Billy Wilder said it already: “you’ve come to the right party”.
What makes a monster? What generates that distorted lust for death? Fiction has tried to explore it, sometimes even explain it, without providing us with much of a satisfying answer. Maybe because there’s not. Yes, this is called The Makings of a Murderer, but don’t be prepared for a solution. It doesn’t exist. Nothing can prevent you from dealing with a potential serial killer. We all are (it’s just they haven’t searched my flat yet). And that’s the first thing you’ll learn in this thorough revision of some of the most notorious criminal cases in the country, all of them serving as a prelude to his recounting on how he caught 48-time heartless slayer, Peter Tobin.
The narration is, honestly, quite engaging. The fact that it’s a true detective that you’re watching contributes enormously to such appeal. There is, however, some lack of rhythm in its delivery, as despite all the given details being no doubt interesting and essential to the storytelling, sometimes you can’t help but feeling as its structure and form could benefit from some improvement. The biggest issue stems, in this case, from a lack of visual entertainment. Yes, he does use video snippets to help illustrate his account, but on more than one occasion you may find yourself wondering: why not have a troupe of actors recreating what we’re being presented with?
One could argue that such change would jeopardize the veracity of the material, as the montage’s undoubted virtue is that all you’re shown is no make-believe; it’s what actually happened by the one who made it happen. And you would be right to make such observation – it’s tricky to determine if this is the appropriate style for this kind of piece. But at the same time, if we go to the theatre, it’s because we’re willing to believe.
Whatever the case, what can’t be denied is that through his timid but drawing personality (yes, I can do the same on you, David…), Swindon manages to keep his audience absorbed through a great deal of the performance, repeatedly triggering that guilty crave for the morbid – but making a huge difference: it’s not about the criminal, it’s about the victim. You will be told all different aspects about those devilish fiends that capture your imagination. But at the end of the day, it’s not the infamous celebrity that should be remembered, but the ones they struck their evil upon. It’s precisely this cautionary tale that actually gives meaning to this talk. And perhaps, also a more than sound reason to come see it.
The Makings of a Murderer is currently on tour across the UK until 10 December. Tickets and venue information are available on the following link.