Dean Makowski-Clayton

Making a Murderer: The Musical

24/08/22

Underbelly Bristo Square (Cowbarn), Edinburgh

Like millions of others across the UK, I was transfixed by the Netflix documentary, Making A Murderer – so when I spot a poster on the Royal Mile with the words ‘The Musical‘ tacked onto the end, I’m intrigued – and simultaneously doubtful. I mean, one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in recent years… with singing and dancing? Isn’t that going to be… disrespectful?

As it turns out, I needn’t worry. In the capable hands of writer Phil Mealey, MAMTM offers a compelling version of the familiar events, a fresh perspective on the story that never feels like a cheap shot. What’s more, the production supports (and is supported by) ‘The Innocence Project’.

We begin with a whistle-stop tour of the little town of Manitowoc, hosted by Betsy (Emma Norman), who at first tries to turn the attention of visitors away from the local lowlife ‘celebrity’, Steven Avery. Shortly thereafter, we are introduced to Avery himself (Matt Bond), his Ma (Amanda Beveridge) and his nephew, Brendan Dassy (Dean Makowski-Clayton). I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you what happens to Steven and Brendan. It was a national obsession, after all.

The songs are terrific throughout, ranging from spirited rockers to plaintive ballads. (Apologies to the audience at the show I visit, but the person you can hear sobbing loudly during Ma Avery’s final number is almost certainly me.) Mealey puts in an appearance as the self-aggrandising prosecutor, Ken Kratz, and Nickie Filshie takes the role of Kathleen Zellner, the lawyer determined to get Avery and Dassy out of prison. This is an ensemble piece and the cast are all accomplished singers, but I particularly enjoy the vocals of Makowski-Clayton as the tragic and vulnerable, Brendan Dassy.

It’s shocking to think that the Netflix documentary first aired in the UK in December 2015. Seven years later, Avery and Dassy are still languishing in jail on no credible evidence whatsoever. I appreciate it’s very late in the day to give a shout out for this splendid production, but I’m shouting anyway.

See it while you still can; it’s important that we don’t forget.

4.4 stars

Philip Caveney