After impressing with their last play Coconut earlier this year, The Thelmas have brought a new one-woman show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Ladykiller was written by Madeline Gould, directed by Madelaine Moore and stars Hannah McClean as Her – it runs at Bunker One at the Pleasance Courtyard until the end of the month. It was impossible to write a proper review without the odd spoiler, so if you haven’t seen it yet then scroll down to ‘My verdict?’ for my overall thoughts and rating – then read the full review once you’ve watched the show.
She’s just killed a woman – and she’s going to get away with it. Working in any kind of customer service job can be absolute hell if you come across the wrong patrons; it can only take one encounter to make a person snap, and it definitely doesn’t have to be over something major. She’s come close to killing before whilst working as a chambermaid in the hotel, but it’s taken until this particular woman for her to actually go through with it – though she doesn’t intend for it to be a one-time thing… And her masterplan for getting away with murder is simple: tell as few lies as possible (so things can’t come back to bite her) and use her gender in her favour.
It sounds like a reckless plan, but she intends to use her femininity to her advantage for once. People don’t tend to believe that a woman can be a so-called “gain killer”, rather they’re happy to stick with thinking that a death like this could only have been in self-defence – when in actual fact it’s been planned (& semi-rehearsed) meticulously. But, no, women don’t feel that kind of anger or experience that kind of compulsion; if they kill alongside a man, he is invariably blamed for leading them astray in one way or another.
Whilst this is obviously quite an extreme action to take, at a time when women are still not put on an equal footing with men, why shouldn’t we properly use this to our benefit? If we’re to be seen as the ‘weaker vessel’, it seems only practical to exploit the system for our own gain. These are highly relevant themes, and it’s refreshing to see something like this being explored by a female team.
It’s a great statement of intent when you first enter the auditorium and need to get past a bloodied corpse in order to find a seat – followed by the maid entering, also covered in blood. It’s clearly high stakes from the beginning. The play takes us on an intriguing journey through the mind of a killer as well as making a point about gender imbalance, all flawlessly delivered by Hannah McClean in a breathtaking performance.
My verdict? A compelling one-woman show that explores the imbalance between the sexes for a deadly purpose – Hannah McClean is breathtaking.
Ladykiller runs at Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One) until 27 August 2018 (1pm, 1 hour). Tickets are available online or from the box office.