With the rise of podcasts like Serial and My Favourite Murder, true crime podcasts are extremely popular right now, especially amongst women. Bible John is birthed out of this phenomenon, following four women as they bond and fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of a podcast about a Glaswegian serial killer - Bible John.
Bible John’s cast consists of four women played by Caitlin McEwan, Ella Mcleod, Laurie Ogden and Lauren Santana. Broadly speaking, they're pretty good, with all of them having really good chemistry and some amazing monologues. Unfortunately, the characters of Bible John are generally pretty indistinguishable and given very little time to breathe as individuals. Instead, they just become cyphers through which the bigger ideas of the production could be expressed, making the production much less engaging as the investment in these characters becomes very limited. As a result, Bible John is at its best when it moves away from the characters and into trippy and intense dance routines playing with lighting, sound and projection.
True crime is a pretty dark genre; from Gacy to Bundy, there’s a never-ending pit of awful people who have done awful things. Bible John manages to find some levity in the darkness, but then intelligently critiques our desire to find levity and construct narratives from a stranger’s demise. Where the production is most successful is the insightful criticisms of the way we consume other people’s trauma so enthusiastically. The play clearly comes from the perspective of someone who has been engaged in true crime fandom, with the criticisms feeling more like self-reflection than condescension. Beyond this, Bible John has a powerful and intriguing perspective on the gendered nature of violence in society, and more specifically why the true crime genre holds such a specific appeal for women.
All in all, Bible John is a fun production with flashes of brilliance and lovingly self-aware and powerful critique that never feels like it reaches its true potential.