THE MAKINGS OF A MURDERER | London, Adelphi Theatre

This PowerPoint lecture by former police detective David Swindle is — against all odds — boring. This seems impossible, given the topic of serial killers, and an audience of fifteen hundred people all clamouring to hear about them. But it is.

Bizarrely, the lecture consists of Swindle clumsily summarising the Wikipedia articles on some of the UK’s worst serial killers. There appears no structure or order to these, as he flips backwards and forwards through the chronology. This goes on for two and a half hours: the lecture is way too long.

Despite promising a “chilling, thrilling, night at the theatre” that is “fully-interactive”, there is no audience participation or opportunity for a question-and-answer session (other than a rushed, two-minute Twitter thing at the start of the second half). And there’s no attempt to make the lecture remotely theatrical. There’s no displaying real-life or facsimile artefacts from murder cases, and almost no discussion of Swindle’s career as a senior detective for over thirty-four years.

What is particularly dismaying is eavesdropping on audience reactions in the interval, many of whom seem vastly more informed and incisive, actually picking out factual errors in Swindle’s lecture.

Swindle himself is in fact a charismatic presenter, and commands the stage effortlessly, with his gravelly Glaswegian voice. There is clearly a huge demand for shows like this, and the opportunity to hear insights from a former police detective should be a privilege. But this show completely fails to live up to the promise of its title and the pedigree of its presenter.

Touring across the UK 16 March – 10 December 2023.

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