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Review of Father of Lies at the Vault Festival

Sasha Roberts and Tom Worsley in Father of Lies
Sasha Roberts and Tom Worsley in Father of Lies

One of the amazing things about the Vault Festival – currently in full swing under Waterloo Station – is the sheer variety of productions that can be seen. I’ve watched a feminist show using the magic of Madonna’s music to get the point across, a farce based around the Holocaust, not to mention a dodgy one-act play about a bus stop and a cello. However, my latest venture to the festival was my first horror show as I went into the Cavern to see Bête Noire Productions’ Father of Lies.

Father of Lies is written and performed by Sasha Roberts and Tom Worsley, two very amiable young men with a taste for the macabre. Their production is based on a true story of a murder, or maybe a double murder, that took place in Würzburg, in what was then West Germany in 1973. It is part presentation and part reenactment as the two guys take the audience through a story which involves the church – in the shape of Father Anselm Neumann, a runaway Jewish girl and the cult of the Erlkonig or Alder King among many other elements guaranteed to grab an audience and hold them spellbound through the roughly fifty minute runtime.

Without giving too much away, the show starts very gently with a bit of audience interaction and a confession of an experience from Tom that sets the mind thinking. And that is a lot of how this show works. In a very smoky atmosphere and with only some candles, an old-fashioned slide projector and a vintage perambulator, Tom and Sasha tell the story in both a matter of fact way – with images of the people concerned and copies of letters, etc – but also with the very intense acting of scenes from the story. There are odd and unexpected moments with lights and sounds, where Director Stephen Sobal added some disorientation and a very palpable sense of ‘othortworldliness’ so the proceedings which all enhanced the rather spooky atmosphere created by the performers and the story itself.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed and was slightly spooked by, Father of Lies, I do have two minor criticisms, I would have liked the show to be slightly longer with Tom and Sasha leading a debate with the audience on what they had just witnessed/lived through. As I was on my own, I had nobody to sit in the bar with and spend the next hour thrashing out all the possible theories. My other problem was that the Cavern felt too large a space for the show. With the traverse stage and the two performers at either end on occasion, I was in danger of getting ‘Wimbledon Neck’ from swinging left and right to watch the current speaker.

Having said that, Tom and Sasha put on a really great and highly entertaining show with Father of Lies. The actual story is quite fascinating and the telling of it worked really well. Ultimately, whilst not being a horror in the traditional sense Father of Lies really got into my mind, though the fact I slept with the light on last night is purely coincidental, honest.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

After sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and the London Horror Festival, true crime thriller Father of Lies returns to London for six performances only, playing at VAULT Festival from Wednesday 28 February to Sunday 4 March 2018.

Using photographs, letters and police reports uncovered during a year of research and investigation, Father of Lies tells for the first time the chilling true story of a mysterious and unsolved murder in West Germany, 1973. Part documentary and part performance, Making a Murderer meets Rosemary’s Baby in this sinister story of a haunted priest, a jealous widower and a satanic cult, which poses the question; is what you believe more important than what is actually real?

Father of Lies is written and performed by Sasha Roberts and Tom Worsley, who met at Bristol University in 2004 and bonded over a shared love of horror films and literature. Using facts and evidence uncovered by meticulous research, they retell this extraordinary story through a mixture of presentation and performance, acting as narrators, documentarians and performers to bring to life their shocking discoveries, and draw the audience into this dark, chilling history.

Venue: VAULT Festival, The Vaults, Leake St, Waterloo, London SE1 7NN
Dates: Wednesday 28 February – Sunday 4 March 2018


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