Lullabies Of Broadmoor: The Murder Club/Wilderness 3 stars
C (Venue 34)
When playwright Steve Hennessy wrote Wilderness in 2002, he would have been surprised to learn he had begun a decade-long exercise that would result in a quartet of plays. From an audience point of view, it doesn't seem very likely either. Presented by Stepping Out Theatre, which specialises in mental-health related drama, the plays tell the stories of five real Broadmoor inmates in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Who knew there'd be a market on the Fringe for four plays about late-Victorian murderers?
On the basis of two of these – The Murder Club, about a manipulative psychopath, and Wilderness, about a paranoid doctor – the series is more informative that dramatic. They are the kind of fact-based bio-plays you can imagine being performed in a museum (albeit a morbid one) rather than a theatre.
Making nods to the sociological causes of mental illness, such as war, childhood trauma and domestic abuse, the plays depend on unlikely conversations between the convicted killers and the ghosts of their victims, not to mention an unusually friendly prison warden, to get the stories across. Solidly acted, they have some gripping moments, but it's hard to forget the contrivance of the plots and the limitations of the prison-cell setting.
Until 27 August
© Mark Fisher 2011
More coverage at theatreSCOTLAND.com
Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND updates
Sign up for theatreSCOTLAND discussion