Father of Lies glows with Biblical imagery revealed through many aspects of this supernatural play. Amongst fog, benches resembling pews and an old fashioned pram, meticulously accentuating the words of the bible. Bête Noire Productions creates strong imagery by infusing this story with a projector; furthermore the storytelling pulls the audience out of the play’s world, never simply allowing illusion to do its work.
‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’
The writers Tom Worsley and Sasha Roberts both perform the piece, directed by Stephen Sobal. Successfully between the three, imagery of gothic literature conjures the subtle horror lying in-between the obvious mysteries. The production is promised as Making a Murderer meets Rosemary’s Baby, yet what transpires is this trend that playmaking must be delivered with a unique style. Unfortunately for Father of Lies, this strips feelings of horror and instead stirs unnecessary nostalgia for those tales told around campfires.
Tom and Sasha engage with the audience raising the topic of the supernatural and whether God is a reality. Not surprisingly, The Vaults audience are either reluctant in expressing their true stance, or too plain stubborn to participate. The limited decline in response returned me back to a moment when on a quiet Sunday morning in Norwich Cathedral, only those of a certain age prayed alongside the clergy. The whole setting contrasted strongly against the emptiness of the outdoor streets and as the Head Priest’s voice thundered against the beautiful architecture, the dying breed of religious followers almost became sorrowful. Father of Lies, therefore in this instance, by breaking the fourth wall, jolts similar biblical essence into a modern day story.
Content is the strongest component, and the tale’s mystery is supported by pictures, excerpts, letters, and collectively it brings natural charm to the story telling aspect. True Murder, the original text is about the forgotten existence of Abigail Klein. Disappearing from Israel and being found in West Germany, her short lived existence resulted in marriage to a priest and giving birth to a stillborn child. A dead baby that miraculously came to back to life. The Priest, Ansell reveals new personal demons, and what is to become of his fatherly bond with this new son? Is Abigail dead, or are the ghosts of demonic form taking over this secluded part of a village? Who will survive, if anyone at all?
Father of Lies has so much potential yet fails to deliver the horrific potential it possesses. During the moment of violence, the tension builds with both characters subtly holding what seems harmless yet deadly weapons. Once again, though, the plays loses fascination as it returns back to engaging with its audience. I was yearning to feel the wrath or pain of Abigail, view a demonic child or even catch a glimpse of the devil itself, disappointingly not once did this happen. Imagery is left stirred in one’s own imagination.
The twelve months research into the project reignites what could be a terrifying tale, so it feels a terrible shame that it should end here. Father of Lies doesn’t need explanation, it doesn’t require Ansell’s last message of hope but what I would like to see, may end up on stage somewhere in the future. It’s a shame to see this project end here.