Anthony Neilson’s Normal is a gripping account of the real-life German serial killer Peter Kurten who, in Germany in 1931 was convicted of the murders of eight people, including several children.
In Neilson’s semi-fictional account, we meet Kurten in his cell, being interviewed by his counsel for the defence, a legal prodigy by the name of Justus Wehner. A product of a liberal household, Wehner believes that Kurten is insane – himself a victim of brutality. The young lawyer attempts to get to the heart of his client’s psyche, to illuminate his insanity so it can be highlighted to the jury, but becomes enthralled to the charisma and warped logic of the self-confessed murderer. Wehner, an expert before the law, finds himself at a loss before life itself.
A play of crisp language, sudden cut-scenes and starkly comic dumb shows, Normal was first performed at the Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh in 1991, before transferring to the Finborough. It has been frequently revived since.