DramaFestivalsReviewSouth East

Father of Lies – The Back Room, The Star Inn, Guildford

Director: J.D. Henshaw

Reviewer: Alice Fowler

Do you believe in God? And the devil? In that case, how about ghosts and witches? With these questions, addressed directly to the audience, Sweet Productions’ Father of Lies – a chilling retelling of a murder case in which anything seems possible – begins.

The Star Inn’s atmospheric stage is perfect for this dark, intense production, staged as part of the Guildford Fringe. Performers Steve Griffin and Nathan Jones – both excellent – slip between roles, both retelling the facts of the case and acting them before us.

The play centres on a gruesome murder case, never solved. In 1967, a young woman, Abigail Klein, disappeared from her home in Israel. Her whereabouts remained unknown until, three years later, she was found in a church in Wṻrzburg, West Germany. The priest who discovered her fell in love with her and the pair soon married. From there the story blackens, extending to sects, the occult and sinister figures from German folklore.

Jones plays the priest, Anselem, haunted by ghosts and visions that only he can see. Griffin portrays his friend, Kurt, apparently sympathetic, but with secrets of his own. Dark forces surround and gradually consume them both, and we watch as their relationship changes from support to hatred and mistrust. An old-fashioned pram sits on one side of the stage. The future of its occupant, we may surmise, is unlikely to be rosy.

The show is billed as horror but is something more interesting than that: an unnerving exploration of a long-ago crime that still has not been solved. By the end, any number of ghoulish explanations seem possible. This unsettling confection of God, ghosts and the dark arts poses many questions, but comes up short on answers.

Runs until 8 February 2019 | Image: Contributed

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Ghoulish murder mystery

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