Bible John at the Vaults
Why are so many women fascinated by murder? Bible John explores this question as it follows four young temps who, in-between awkwardly making tea and working on meaningless spreadsheets, spend their days listening to true crime podcasts and researching serial killers while spending sleepless nights scrolling through the gruesome details of murders committed by Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and so on.
When they discover that they’re all listening to the same podcast about the murder of three young women in Glasgow during the late 1960s – the true story of Bible John and the Barrowland killings – they become heavily invested in cracking the case. When their favourite podcast host admits defeat, they decide to take on the investigation themselves.
The show combines a Ted Talk, acting, a podcast and a sprinkling of experimental dancing to create an emotionally-charged commentary on this sub-genre. The feelings of anger, frustration, confusion and sorrow, as well as inappropriately laughing at horrific details, feels authentic because it is. It is what any fan of true crime will relate to. A video screen is used to play looping, slightly surreal footage, of the four performers. It feels a little abstract and overly arty, but it adds a sense of unease to the proceedings.
Bible John surveys the true crime genre – from the ethical issues with reenactments to questioning why we know so little about the victims. Why are Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy remembered when the people they killed are largely forgotten, by everyone but their families? In the case of Bible John’s victims, why do we only know these women’s names, ages and how many children they’ve had?
As an avid true crime consumer, this show is interesting because it explores why so many women are drawn to murder podcasts. Is it because we’re all potential psychopaths? For the creators of Bible John, it’s because many women have an underlying fear that one day, it could be them.
This is a fascinating point because those who are not familiar with the genre so often assume that people who are invested in true crime have an unhealthy obsession with murderers. However, in reality, it’s more about arming yourself with the knowledge of what happened so that you can keep yourself safe.
Writer and performer Caitlin McEwan has clearly prepared for all kinds of criticism and is very clear that Bible John isn’t saying that all men are violent, but highlights that there’s just a stark reality that statistically many of the forgotten victims are female and almost all of the murderers are male.
This show is #NotAllMen waiting to happen, but it is self-aware enough to tackle that head-on. Bible John doesn’t have all the answers, but it doesn’t try to. If you’ve ever listened to a true crime podcast while typing away in a silent office, or listened to the details of a grisly murder on the tube, or spent way too long trying to get to the bottom of an unsolved case at 3am, then this is the show for you. In the words of Karen and Georgia from My Favourite Murder: “Stay sexy, and don’t get murdered.”
Bible John is at the Vaults until 16th February 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.