Stirling court to host play about serial killer

A play about Peter Manuel, the so-called Beast of Birkenshaw, will be shown at Stirling Sheriff Court. Picture: Contributed
A play about Peter Manuel, the so-called Beast of Birkenshaw, will be shown at Stirling Sheriff Court. Picture: Contributed
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THE horrific exploits of one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers are to take centre stage in a major new theatre production this year.

Transcripts from the famous 1958 trial of “Beast of Birkenshaw” Peter Manuel will be turned into a play to be staged at Stirling Sheriff Court.

The production, will be part of the second “Bloody Scotland” festival, which is devoted to crime and is being held for the second time in September.

Award-winning Edinburgh dramatist Marilyn Imrie, who is also a veteran radio director and producer, is adapting the transcripts from New York-born Manuel’s trial, which saw him convicted of seven murders. He was hanged at Barlinnie Prison, one of the last men to be executed there.

The Bloody Scotland festival, which will feature some 37 events in venues across Stirling, has confirmed a star-studded line-up, which has hugely expanded for the event’s second year.

Special guests include American author Kathy Reichs, who is also a professor of anthology, David Hewson, the British writer who has adapted the cult Scandinavian series The Killing for the printed page, and actor-turned-writer John Gordon Sinclair, who shot to fame with his role in hit 1980s comedy Gregory’s Girl.

English poet and novelist Sophie Hannah, the writer tasked with delivering a comeback for Hercule Poirot after almost four decades, is expected to be among the hot-ticket attractions in the line-up.

Christopher Brookmyre, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Stuart McBride and William McIlvanney will be among the leading Scottish writers appearing at the event, with the latter expected to deliver his verdict on the result of the Scottish independence referendum, which will be held just before the festival kicks off.

The Bloody Scotland programme will also feature a special murder mystery event at Stirling Castle, based on a real-life killing there, a mystery ilm screening in Stirling’s historic Old Town jail, and even a football match between Scottish and English authors.

Festival manager Dom Hastings said: “I’m enormously proud of this year’s programme.

We’ve got a wonderful balance of top Scottish talent and some legendary crime writers from all over the world, and exciting events to bring our audiences right into the action of their favourite novels and allow them to explore some of the darker aspects of Scotland’s history.

“Last year’s festival was a huge success and because of the demand we’ve expanded out even further, with more events and writers, and some beautiful new venues in Stirling’s historic centre. We’re all set for a wide-reaching, glamorous and slightly gory celebration of one of Scotland’s true passions.”