Caitlin McEwan, a Scottish playwright, also said she was not interested in making a “straight play” about true crime, but in producing “something that speaks to the audience and does something formally inventive,” she said. In “Bible John,” four women start off by playing present-day true crime podcast enthusiasts. Later, as their obsession deepens, the characters begin to re-enact scenes from the case, taking on the roles of victims and police officers.
The play examines how the true crime genre leaves us craving neatly structured stories and solutions. This is particularly pointed in the Bible John case, which was never solved. “Narratively that is really interesting,” she said. “How do you tell a story as a theatermaker that doesn’t have an ending?”
Ms. McEwan also wanted to explore another thorny issue: gender. True crime is much more popular among women than men. “I’ve got a lot of friends who are obsessed, and I was really interested in why it’s always women,” Ms. McEwan said. “There are a lot of women who feel really conflicted about it, but won’t stop listening.”
Ms. Drezen, a “Saturday Night Live” writer and stand-up comic, had a theory as to why. “It’s like we’re preparing, we’re studying: obviously I’m going to get murdered at some point,” she laughed, darkly. In her show “Okay Get Home Safe!!” she explores her love of true crime, how we’re sold the idea that the world is dangerous for women, and the times when she actually has found herself in danger.
“True crime is so centered around white, cis, straight women, and femininity being this unassailable virtue,” Ms. Drezen said. “White women are in less danger than a lot of other populations — people of color, trans women — why is it that we’re so scared?” Her show will look at why violence against women is so “marketable.”
Ms. Drezen also comments on how strange it is that such a topic has become “fun and fluffy” entertainment. “I’ll take a break from political analysis podcasts, and turn on something about a woman who died while screaming … why does this feel relaxing?”