Tag Archives: Louise Waller

Bible John


VAULT Festival 2020

Bible John

Bible John

Forge – The Vaults

Reviewed – 14th February 2020



“the raw energy and directness of These Girls in this original show guarantees a multi-layered and intensely nuanced performance piece”


Think crime and female sleuths and your minds will probably go to the likes of Miss Marple, Precious Ramotswe and Jessica Fletcher.

But in “Bible John,” an enjoyable and informative new show as part of the VAULT Festival, These Girls theatre company explain that many women today are hooked on true crime podcasts, with one group of female office workers turning detective to investigate a serial killer at work in 1960s Glasgow.

This is no mere “Murder, She Podcasted.” The play successfully treads a fine line between exploring the impact such an interest in grisly murders may have on its fans, with a deeper question about male violence against women and how society treats victims, and producing a funny and entertaining festival show.

Writer Caitlin McEwan, Renee Bailey, Carla Garratt and Louise Waller play the four ordinary temps who discover they share a morbid fascination with true crime, and with a podcast reinvestigating the Bible John murders by American journalist Carrie LaRue.

Unravelling the facts from the speculation they find this sharing of the story is cathartic and empowering, while also understanding that they need to recognise this isn’t a piece of crime fiction, but a case involving true life: “This is about real women’s lives, not a game of Sudoku!” says one as the girls ignore their work demands and instead journey down a rabbit hole in search of evidence and meaning.

On a plain stage with office chairs, a screen and just a few props the four performers, under the tight and bold direction of Lizzie Manwaring, ensure there is a palpable sense of rage and irritation which can only send audiences out thinking about general attitudes towards women and the dangers of obsession in any form.

The infectious buzz of the production is aided further by Laurie Ogden’s movement direction, which captures the liberation of women who just want to dance and the release of pent-up frustration.

Just as in the unsolved murders committed by Bible John 50 years ago, this show has no ending – other than to recognise that there is no ending, that things can’t be tied up neatly, and that there are still too many anonymous victims of male violence.

The final reminder of the victims’ names with their pictures on screen underlines the powerful point that all crime has victims who must never remain an anonymous part of a story. But the raw energy and directness of These Girls in this original show guarantees a multi-layered and intensely nuanced performance piece.


Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Ali Wright


VAULT Festival 2020



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Debris – 5 Stars



Theatre N16

Reviewed – 21st October 2018


“highly watchable and totally uncompromising in its commitment to Kelly’s vision”


Dennis Kelly’s Debris is not a beautiful play. A classic of In-yer-face theatre, it documents the strange, fantastical origins of a brother and sister whose understanding of life is warped by the adults that control it. The play opens with the brother’s description of their father committing suicide by crucifixion: thus, the audience is immersed into a world of where adults are predators, babies are found in the rubbish, and normality is just a dream on a TV screen. It is visceral, loud, disturbing.

But, somehow, beautiful is the immediate adjective that I reach for when thinking of Battered Soul Theatre’s revival of Debris. The company have engaged with the many layers in Kelly’s text to create a vivid piece that is beautifully acted and designed and executed with enthralling energy.

Hugo Aguirre’s set design plays a huge part in this; in many ways, it is the star of the show. Upon entering Theatre N16, the curious spectator peers over the heads of their fellow audience members to see a cramped square of stage, on which two people sit drawing shapes in the dust. They are surrounded by stones and sand; a bike wheel and a ripped plastic bag sit in one corner, a neon tricycle in another. By covering the stage in literal debris, Aguirre not only reflects the dark content of the play, but uses it in order to amplify the action. From the sounds of the actors walking across stones to the clouds of dust that billow up as they scramble violently through their grotesque world, this highly innovative design evokes more than artificial means could hope to.

But this is not to compromise the performers themselves. It is thanks to James Anthony-Rose and Louise Waller that the pace of the show never flags. Anthony-Rose’s Michael fizzes with anger and frustration: his bitter, deadpan description of his ‘fat bastard’ of a father dying on the cross and annoyance at his sister’s persistent aliveness is both chilling and darkly funny. Equally, however, Anthony-Rose emphasises Michael’s vulnerability. His discovery of a baby in a pile of rubbish and instinct to care for him is moving; the audience’s attachment to these moments is strengthened by the prior harshness of his character. Waller’s delivery has the same deadpan quality, but her Michelle maintains the coolness that Michael loses. She effectively portrays and maintains the siblings’ detachment from reality: the many contradictory stories of her mother’s death have an otherworldly quality, despite their emotional core. Under the strong guidance of director Alex Prescot, they have created characters that are both believable and detached, perfectly capturing the internal conflict of Kelly’s play.

Battered Soul have proven that Debris still stands as a fascinating and innovative piece of theatre that has the ability to challenge and captivate an audience. Their adaptation is both highly watchable and totally uncompromising in its commitment to Kelly’s vision.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography courtesy Battered Soul Theatre



Theatre N16 until 25th October


Previously reviewed at this venure:
Unicorn | ★★★½ | May 2018
Shakespeare’s Mad Women | ★★★★ | June 2018
Reading Gaol | ★★★½ | July 2018
Castles Palaces Castles | ★★ | September 2018
Rough | ★★ | September 2018
Timeless | ★★★ | October 2018


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