Henry Filloux-Bennett’s play about the pointless whirl of despair that has continued to surround everybody connected to the Moors Murders has caused more than its fair share of fuss. It’s not that it isn’t very good, just that it shouldn’t be particularly controversial.
The Arts has been developing a culture of trivialising serious issues (See Mel Brooks’s ‘Springtime for Hitler’ gags, Thalidomide The Musical and an MP lapping milk out of the hands of that weird old woman in the Big Brother House) so attempting to handle such an issue with maturity and aplomb should be welcomed, even if it fails. Reverence doesn’t fail. In fact the play is exhausting and doesn’t leave much room to feel anything other than utter dismay about the ruthless actions of Hindley and Brady in the 1960s. Some might feel it is presumptuous to try and get into the heads of two such abhorrent people but the script is strong and the bastardised socio-philosophy of the elder Brady just pours out of Simon Cotton in a scene of remarkable quality.
The Lakeside Arts Centre has stated that it chose not to run the play on artistic grounds; the production team feels as though they are the victims of refusal to take a risk. This is a moot point. Truth be told, the experience is edgy and relies on a cast of mixed acting ability. The play draws very heavily on Hindley’s monologues and cannot tell us a great deal more about the murders than we already knew.
For all of this though, it should have been a play the Lakeside were proud to take on. Freedom in the creative arena proves a society is ready to take on its past and deal with the dirty issues clogging up its collective consciousness. There is never anything exploitative or voyeuristic about the experience and neither is the audience tempted toward inclinations of this sort. Whether or not you want to see a play about these themes and events, you have to concede that this is the right way to go about making one.