The Ted Bundy Project- Bristol Old Vic

The Ted Bundy Project

It’s very rare that you feel so uncomfortable in the theatre that you check to see that the path to an exit is clear. It’s rarer still that one feels the bile rise from the back of the throat and you wonder if you’ll get to the toilet in time. The posters before you enter the auditorium warn of graphic images, but the only images Greg Wohead concocts in The Ted Bundy Project are the ones in your head. His language weaves and slides slippery and problematically around images of violence and death, taking us into a place in our psyche we may prefer to stay away from. Or would we? Is there a little bit of us fascinated by this; a society which glamourises the killers and the atrocities: is there a reason we remember the killer but never the victim?

Wohead bounds on in gleaming white tennis gear, as though he has just had a session at the local country club, and with goofy grin and soft melodic voice proceeds to charm us, in much the same way that Bundy was purported to have charmed his own victims. Trawling YouTube one night, Wohead came across the confession tapes of this man and couldn’t stop listening. Google then sent him in many directions, a journey that sends him directly into Dante’s circles of hell. Though he talks about the infamous killer’s first victim in forensic detail, as though laying out evidence for a court; it’s not a piece specifically about Bundy, more about our continued fascination with violence, and the internet’s pervading influence in allowing us to come across images and videos that previous generations have shied away from. Where one generation tried to block out the atrocities they saw in Dunkirk and its ilk, we now seem obsessed in finding them out.

It’s when the talk moves to an infamous snuff video found online that my nerve goes. In detail we’re given a beat by beat description of its content. A few minutes later, we see a video that suggests we are about to see the horrors that have already wormed their way into our consciousness. We’re pulled between being repulsed and fascinated, like that car accident that we can’t help but stare at as we cruise past.

Wohead is a convivial storyteller who draws us in and keeps us on side (just about) even as the mood darkens. It’s not a piece that one recommends but in exposing our own morbid fascination, it brings us face to face with Bundy’s own twisted psyche. It’s a chilling place to be.

Runs until Saturday 27th June 2015 | Photo: Alex Brenner

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