manur- Killing time

What makes people kill? Thom Dibdin talks to William Brandt, author of Verbatim, who found out from the murderers themselves.

A casual. nonchalant even. slip of the finger on the trigger, or maybe the slit of a knife and another violent crime has been committed. Someone might lie dead. turning the swift act into murder.

Murder is the stuff of great drama; a tragedy, where two people are drawn inexorably together resulting in the death of one at the hand of the other. Verbatim goes a different way, however, looking at casual slaying through transcripts of interviews with perpetrators, their friends and families. and those close to the victims.

‘We identified two basic strains of murder,’ says William Brandt. who researched and wrote the play with actress Miranda Harcourt. ‘As one murderer put it. “There’s killing for gain and killing for loss.” Killing-for- loss pe0ple are people who have lost something and are killing out of a self- destructive impulse. They are the crimes of passion. Then there are those who kill for gain, and they are the ones we ended up focusing on. They are usually young. and male. They end up

killing because they don't think about other people enough, basically.‘

The solo play concentrates on one murderer. 22-year-old Aaron, a composite fictional character based on real interviews. ‘The idea is to try and distil what sort of person he is. How does a man get like that, how does he see himself, how do his family see him.’

Harcourt approached Brandt with the idea for the play while they were acting together in their native New Zealand. At that stage they had no idea what form the script would take, or how it would work out. But Harcoun’s goal was to create a show that could be therapeutic in some way for people who were involved in violent crime.

‘lt was a process of discovery,’ says Brandt, and hardly an easy one. ‘A lot


of the violent criminals we spoke to were surprisingly nice. You’d be chatting away then suddenly think, “Hang on, this guy killed someone. How can i just feel relaxed with him?” When we were speaking to the victims it was very painful. There was one woman who had been shot at point blank range. She and her husband were so nice, so ordinary and so harmless. Speaking to them was very hard. Although this play does focus on the perpetrator. one of the objects is to try and get the point across that it is the victim that suffers. People have to understand that, especially the people who did it.‘

I Verbatim (Fringe) Verbatim Theatre Company. Stepping Stones Theatre (Venue Si) 225 6520/226 2|5l, until 4 Sept. 4.15pm, £5 (£4).

The two Dons

Oon Ouixote adaptations seem to have becomeabitofafashlonoflate, with two stage versions and one musical gracing the Fringe this year. it’s hardly surprising that at some point Oeuchteurs, a company with a reputation built on the strength of two impressive shows - The Splitting Of lstham and Ship Oi Fools - should have found Cervantes’ episodicaily epic text eminently suitable tor their own pathos-stratified style of huttoenery.

As usual Pete livingstoue’s evocative score lends a melancholic tint to the gleefully inventive visuals, and as usual the whole experience of the showienvesyongropingforaiotot critical tautelogies in order to explain lust why it’s so profoundly moving. The weir points of the show appear when the script, rather than the choreography, is foragrounded: these


An idealistic tea-er and an incamprehuding world

Benchtour folk are brilliant performers, but their acting tends to slow the piece and leaves you with the impression that The Death Of Oon Ouixote never quite manages to fire on all cylinders.

Oxford University Experimental Theatre Club has lived up to the name and set their Oon Ouixote in the trenches of the Spanish Civil War. it’s arguable whether the piece gains anything from this, as the only references appear at the beginning andendoftheshowandseerntobe irrelevant for the rest of the time. The

entire cast tare turns to play the Knight Of The Sad Countenance and his squire, in an experimental sort of way, and this provides them with an opportunity to try out various patronising regional accents. Such economies make for an interesting and pacy, it not outrageously inventive, show, which does a splendid job in imparting the tragic nobility of the lion’s farcical mission. Overall, the Oxford thespians rely more heavily on dialogue than Benchtours, and seem to be able to pull more humour out of the exchanges between an idealistic dreamer and an incomprehendlng world.

if the Cervantes vogue is to continue then we can only hope that they’re all uptothestandard ofthesetwo productions. (Stephen Chester) The Death Of Oon Oulxote (Fringe) Benchtours, Theam Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, until 4 Sept, 4pm, £5.50 (£3.50). Oon Ouixote (Fringe) Oxford llniversity Experimental Theatre Citdr, Overseas liouse (Venue 19) 225 5105, until 4 W. 5.45”. £5 (£3)-


Stephen Chester misses the soaps for the better Fringe things.

I Belly Dancing Workshops Raqs Sharqi is its proper name, and apparently it started as a form of Mother Earth worship. Here’s an opportunity to express female creativity, fertility and power, so wear loose clothing or a bikini.

Belly Dance Workshops (Fringe) Acoustic Music Centre (Venue 25) 220 2462. until 2 Sept. 5.15pm. £5.50 (£4.50). Pe ormance 29 Au. 2.15 m.

I Blue light in The Head The Vlest An award-winning drama featuring crow-shooting in lowa; a Scottish hedge-cutter in search of his roots; corpses, gutted pigs, nudity and incest. Something for everyone in fact.

Blue Night In The Heart Of The West (Fringe) Plain Clothes Productions. Traverse Theatre (Venue I 5) 228 [404, until 3 Sept. various times, £7 (£4).

I Storm III A Teacup Anything described as Bathroom Drama has to have a certain appeal. and this ‘joumey through songs and pictures‘ gives an audience a chance to see just what other people get up to in their bathrooms. There’s a double bass and a jazz singer in there, strangely enough. Storm In A Teacup (Fringe) Dare to Believe Productions. The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 2 Sept. 3pm. £4.50/£4 (£3.50/£3).

I On The Verge Oi Exploding ‘Far too short’ was the only complaint our critic had for this bit of physical theatre which features fruit and lecherous chicken thieves. A tragedy of betrayal and guilt. with lots of jokes.

On The Verge 0f Exploding (Fringe) The John Wright Company. The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 4 Sept. 5.25pm, £7.50/£7 (£5.50/£5).

I Apoloqu Last issue’s review of The Con:Fusion suggested the actors themselves were prisoners; this is not the case, and apologies to those inconvenienced by this misunderstanding.

The Con:Fusion (Fringe) Gallery Productions. Celtic Lodge (Venue 6) 225 7097, until 28 Aug, 3.30pm. £4 (£3).

The List 27 August-9 September I993 29