David Brooks was an accomplice to the killing of more than twenty boys in Texas in the 1970s. Based on Dennis Cooper’s novella, Gisèle Vienne’s production places Brooks on a chair centre stage, and in Jonathan Capdevielle’s performance he is given the opportunity to recount the grisly details of his crimes through puppets.
Capdevielle brings an unnerving energy to the stage, not least of all with a voice that seems to scrape between registers. He creates a soundscape from the whistling of lips and the sloshing of saliva, and his ventriloquism is rather impressive. But it’s hard not to see repeated puppet-rape as anything other than gratuitous, and the conceit quickly looses effect.
Part of the difficulty is that the puppets do little to create a critical distance that might allow us to better grasp the killer’s psychology, that of his victims, or the circumstances surrounding the events being remembered. Instead, the puppets are fairly straight-forward extensions of the killer. When he stares into the mid-distance at the end of the show, drooling profusely from the mouth, the performance looks more like a failed auto-erotic experiment than a probing study of a serial killer’s mind.