Ladykiller @ Pleasance Courtyard

Hannah McClean's bright-eyed portrayal is chilling, charming and terrifyingly believable

Review by Clare Sinclair | 23 Aug 2018

In a world where shows such as Making A Murderer and The Staircase have proved so popular, a performance about a murderer seems likely to prove a big hit; we're fascinated by true crime and what makes a potential killer tick. Tapping into this, Ladykiller is a darkly comedic tale of the lesser-known and lesser-accepted murderess.

Madeline Gould's script is unflinching as she portrays a fledgling serial killer in the moments after her first kill, body cooling on the floor and blood soaked up to her elbows. Playing an unnamed chambermaid as she justifies her kill, Hannah McClean's bright-eyed portrayal is chilling, charming and terrifyingly believable.

What is most thrilling about Ladykiller – brought to the festival by The Thelmas – is how the chambermaid looks and sounds just like us. She could easily be our neighbour, co-worker or friend. In fact, she is so lucid about her actions she acknowledges how likeable, charming and high functioning she seems. She's studied the actions of serial killers before her, informs us of how women are underestimated as murderers and how she fully plans to use that to her advantage. Quiet moments of contemplation by the killer give way to angry rants about the injustices in the world: punishment doled out to tax-dodgers and rapists being one, the poor treatment of people who work in customer services the other. 

McLean's performance is stellar: comedic lines are delivered with perfect timing briefly breaking the building tension before dropping back the mask and letting us see the darkness inside, tension palpable all the way down to her blood-soaked fingertips. Yet no matter how dark the subject matter, McLean's performance ensures that we're somehow on her side, rooting for her. And most of all, we'll be nice to people who work in customer services.

Ladykiller, Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One), 1-27 Aug (not 13, 14), 1pm, £11-£10

Scroll on to read more of The Skinny's 2018 Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews; click here for a round-up of all the best reviews from this year's comedy and theatre programmes