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Review: The Makings Of A Murderer (Adelphi Theatre)

Review by Daz Gale

A new show arrived in the West End this week for one night only as part of an extensive UK tour. Audiences arriving at the Adelphi Theatre hoping for a fun night of escapism as Marty McFly tries to avoid dating his mother were instead treated to former Detective David Swindle delivering a presentation on some of the most high profile serial killers from the last Century. But was The Makings Of A Murderer all killer and no filler or did it bore me to death?

The Makings Of A Murderer is put together by David Swindle, who famously caught serial killer Peter Tobin. Since retiring, he has used his talents in other avenues – the latest being this one man show which has been touring up and down the country. It marks a departure for the Adelphi Theatre as they use the day Back To The Future shuts its DeLorean doors each week to host non musical events such as this and the special Do You Believe In Ghosts due to play there on Halloween

Throughout the show, David Swindle remains alone on stage, navigating the history of some of the most notorious serial killers in history examining what would make somebody take their own life. Later in the show, he takes us through the story of Peter Tobin who he was responsible for catching with his own Operation Anagram. David talks to the audience accompanied only by a powerpoint presentation feeling part TED talk, part presentation and part lecture.

While the subjects are interesting and David himself proves charismatic on the stage, the show itself can prove uneven throughout – inconsistently paced with a first act that felt more rapid than the second. There is also the frustration of us not delving deep enough into the stories, particularly in the case of Peter Tobin where nuggets of information are teased but not in enough detail that would prove satisfying or give us an insight in what it was truly like to catch a serial killer. This in itself felt like a bit of a missed opportunity.

That being said, The Makings Of A Murderer is a show that is perfectly enjoyable and (as wrong as it feels to say) pleasant. The subjects at hand may not have been the nicest and at moments, graphic descriptions of the victims demises may have made certain audience members feel queasy, but the recounting of events was consistently captivating – even more so by David’s own undeniable charm and glisten in his eye as he cracked the odd dad joke throughout.

One of the most admirable moments throughout the show is David’s determination not to glamourise the killers like many other platforms have done in recent years. At the heart of his show is the tragedy of the victims and never taking for granted what a loss of life means. The realism is part of what makes the show work with his own attitude and how much he cares bringing more depth to the stories he tells.

Fans of true crime will hang on The Scottish Detectives every word as he takes them through some of the darkest moments in British history. There’s no denying the morbid curiosity topics like this have for audiences with countless programmes popping up on Netflix and other platforms. As a theatre production though, it didn’t quite stick the landing as successfully as it might on TV. Though David himself is a joy to listen to, it was the content of the show that stopped this being as fascinating as it otherwise might have. It definitely has the makings of a good show but may need to tie a couple of loose ends together if it has any hope of solving the case to make a truly fantastic show.


The Makings Of A Murderer is currently on a 100 date tour all over the UK. Full dates and tickets at



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