Setting foot in Silk in the middle of the afternoon is an incredibly daunting experience at the best of times. However, doing so as eerie music plays accompanied by the noise of wind and rain, while a passage from the Bible –‘for he is a liar and the father of lies’ (John 8:44) – is projected onto a screen is something else entirely. At the same time, it perfectly helps prepare the audience for what is to come.
Describing itself (perhaps boldy) as ‘Making a Murderer meets Rosemary’s Baby’, Father of Lies quickly establishes its ’True Crime’ style of presentation, similar to popular podcasts like Serial or Casefile: True Crime. Hosts Tom and Sasha are very open about the show, fully explaining how the next hour will unfold, before engaging the audience in a discussion about their beliefs in God, the Devil, witchcraft and the existence of ghosts; as well as explaining their own stances before turning their attention to the slide projector sequestered at one end of the traverse stage.
The end product of a year’s worth of research, the audience are presented with the details of a single (or double) murder from West Germany in 1973 in a well-constructed manner that is very thought-provoking. Unfortunately, that does not stop the show from feeling somewhat underwhelming.
One of the main elements working against Father of Lies is the running time. At an hour long, it is difficult to fully explain all the intricacies of the case which certainly restricts Tom and Sasha from being as in-depth as one may desire. Consequently, aspects which seemed important, like the potential existence of a satanic cult, are hardly mentioned after being introduced. This results in a rather unsatisfying denouement.
That said, much of the show is well-paced, delving into individual histories when necessary. The inclusion of photographs and letters greatly aids the explanation of events surrounding the murder that also help to keep the audience engaged. However, the show also features dramatic re-enactments of events which fall a bit flat. Ultimately they just feel like padding which is a shame as the details of the crime are highly intriguing; had the enactments been abandoned, and a more straightforward lecture been embraced, it may have allowed for a more satisfying explanation.
Father of Lies is an enjoyable and thought-provoking hour of entertainment which, as part of the Free Fringe, is definitely worthwhile; however more weathered fans of the True-Crime format may well be expecting something more
Father of Lies
Silk (Venue 444)
Until 26th August
Free (part of PBH’s Free Fringe)
Poster artwork credit: Big Helping