Myra, Pretty Villain Productions Ltd. Rialto Theatre 4, 5, 6, 7 May
It’s the end of the first May Bank Holiday Monday in Brighton, the festival is getting into full swing, the weather has been very kind and a mixed aged crowd of a hundred or so people make their way into the Rialto Theatre to round off a weekend of culture with a slice of intriguing dark theatre.
The poster for the show features the police shot of Myra with the quote “I was a normal human being for 18 years before I met Ian”. I walk into this dark former night club to be greeted with a silhouette of Lauren Varnfield as Myra Hindley sitting with her head down, one hand holding her other arm, sitting in a chair wearing menacing black clothes almost identical to the ones in the classic headshot. I’m gripped already.
She lifts her head, stands up and begins a forty-five-minute monologue. The crowd become very quiet indeed. Other characters don’t need to be seen but when she talks to them you believe they are there. Within minutes of watching her talking so passionately you despise Ian Brady yet you are terrified of him, because she is. Yet she loves him. Or at least she thinks she does.
She begins wondering what she’s got herself into, yet freely admits to being aroused by the grotesque acts. It’s never clear just what exactly her involvement in the murders is but she brags about how easy some of them were. At the same time, she is clearly being manipulated by the abusive Ian Brady and fears for her own life. She is the victim. But no, she is a monster too and admits she has blood on her hands.
Stage props are minimal. Two storage units that double up as boxes to stand on. A screen with projected images of newspaper headlines, the iconic police photos of the Moors murderers and moving footage of where all this took place. One woman on stage giving a mesmerising performance. And that’s it.
For a show so brief Myra really delivers. Punchy, thought provoking and very dark, it gives no answers and leaves you with questions. Most of which begin with the one word that is the most important question in itself. Why?
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