What's Your Poison? comes to Hemel Hempstead
and live on Freeview channel 276
What’s Your Poison? is a true-crime murder mystery and is the first play by journalist and author Steve Orme.
It features 19th century medic William Palmer who allegedly poisoned a number of people including his wife, his alcoholic brother, his mother-in-law and four of his children.
“I’ve been captivated by this story for more than a decade,” says Orme.
“There’s no doubt he was a rogue, a gambler and a womaniser who defrauded his mother out of thousands of pounds. But was he a serial killer?”
The play is seen from two perspectives: the atmospheric Victorian era with the doctor, his family and his trial, and a contemporary viewpoint with a young couple eager to explore whether Palmer’s conviction for murdering a close friend was a miscarriage of justice.
“I used to work in television and ten years ago I produced a trailer for a documentary,” Orme adds. “I turned this into a stage play and sent it to Rumpus Theatre Company whose work I was familiar with. They lapped it up and decided to mount a tour.”
John Goodrum from Rumpus who will direct What’s Your Poison? explains: “It fitted in with my fascination for everything to do with Victorian gothic horror, both fictional and factual. It’s certainly in the Rumpus tradition and it’s got a delicious final twist.”
Orme who is working on his second crime novel explains he became intrigued with the story of the man known as the Prince of Poisoners when a friend alerted him to it.
“It’s a gripping tale. A wax effigy of Palmer was displayed in the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds for more than 120 years. When Palmer was on trial Charles Dickens described him as ‘the greatest villain that ever stood in the Old Bailey’.
“But where is the evidence? Palmer was hanged for the murder of John Parsons Cook who was supposed to have been poisoned with strychnine – but at his post-mortem examination no strychnine was found in his body.
“Audiences can finally make up their own minds as to how many people William Palmer poisoned – if any.”
What’s Your Poison will be at the Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead on Saturday 28th October.