In Conversation with an Acid Bath Murderer

There can’t be a more perfect setting for In Conversation With An Acid Bath Murderer than the bowels of Brighton’s Town Hall, where 368 Theatre Company takes full advantage of the Old Police Cells Museum to stage this riveting production.

if you’ve never been to the Old Police Cell Museum then give yourselves a grisly treat

On the eve of his impending execution in 1949, the devilishly devious killer, John Haigh, takes us on a macabre journey through the last few months of his life. The audience shares the cramped, exposed brick cell with the convicted man, lit with only candles and a few bare bulbs to listen to his confessions and meet some of the characters that have had the misfortune to end up in his dreaded workshop.

Based on a true story, writer Nigel Fairs delves into the dark recesses of this charming murderer’s mind, as he seeks to explain his actions, what turns him into a cold blooded killer, and the events that lead to his arrest and imprisonment.

The rotating cast of two consists of Haigh and an actress who takes on multiple roles and accents, introducing us to his innocent sweetheart, Margaret, cynical cigarette-smoking Rose, and Olive, the old lady with gall stones and false teeth, who proves to be his undoing. The costumes and setting conjure up the past beautifully, and Haigh looks the mustached period part, with his swept over hair and crisp white shirt. Deftly directed by Louise Jameson, the music, noises and demonic whispers add to the atmosphere, but getting a glimpse into the mind of a killer is what’s most fascinating and leaves us asking - why did he do it?

It seems as though money is the driving force, and he manages to get his hands on his victim’s cash by a clever use of handwriting forgery, but this killer has a far darker reason for inflicting death. His all-consuming thirst knows no bounds.

The script is surprisingly full of humour, helping lighten the mood. Haigh, at times, breaks the fourth wall in a clever mechanism to accuse us of wanting to know the goriest details. He’s not called the Acid Bath Murderer for nothing and his descriptions of how he disposes of the bodies will remain with you long after leaving the theatre.

If you’ve never been to the Old Police Cell Museum then give yourselves a grisly treat and get into the mind of a mad murderer before he puts his neck into the noose for the final time.

Reviews by Christine Kempell

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Join John George Haigh in his cell, the night before he is hanged in 1949. Written by Nigel Fairs and directed by Louise Jameson, this terrifying true story won an Argus Angel Award in 2011. [newline] "A fascinating journey through the killer's mind" (Eastern Daily Press).