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Drama Showcase: In Conversation With An Acid Bath Murderer by Nigel Fairs

01/11/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Drama Showcase: In Conversation With An Acid Bath Murderer in the USA - or Buy Drama Showcase: In Conversation With An Acid Bath Murderer in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 9.99 (UK), Download: GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-554-9). cast: Nigel Fairs, Louise Jameson, Suzanne Procter and Richard Franklin.

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An eminently sane serial killer tries to convince us he is a raving blood-drinking lunatic. Well, it’s better than being hung isn’t it? Hard to imagine that charmer John Haig could really be sane if he was able to kill in cold blood and dissolve his victims’ bodies in sulphuric acid but he was hanged as a murderer in England in August 1949. He killed at least six people and blamed his childhood.

‘In Conversation With An Acid Bath Murderer’ takes us from the condemned cell to the finest restaurants to Beachy Head with his fiancée and the final moments of his life. It sweeps between different times and venues as Haig examines himself in his cell before he is measured by the hangman.

eminently sane person became a notorious killer whose profile still intrigues people. Nigel Fairs whose grandfather apparently put the shackles on Haig in prison has been fascinated with the character for many years and originally produced this as a stage play.

The intimacy of the audio makes this very similar to the claustrophobic theatrical presentation where the audience may feel trapped in the darkened room with a cackling killer. This is effectively reproduced between your ears and it’s a disturbing experience.

There is some perspective on Haig's views as there are contributions from his fiancée and two of his victims. As ghosts Archie and Rose Henderson get to speak up, reminding us that the victims are usually the voiceless ones. The problem with notoriety of any killer is that his victims are simply forgotten. They are the names and numbers but their lives have been corrupted and lost to someone who will be remembered for his evil deeds.

This is an atmospheric and compelling performance in which an almost one-man show is enhanced by the supporting performances. It is mesmerising without even the benefit of seeing the disturbing blue eyes of the serial killer. Although this is somewhat of a departure for Big Finish, the subject matter slots in well with its output. As usual, the sound and music design is off the highest quality and this adds to the wonderful menace of the piece. The only thing that could top this would be seeing it live in the theatre but I’m not sure I would want to be in the same room as this charmer.

Sue Davies

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