by Amanda Whittington
27th June – 4th July
Director: Phil Porter
This play, set in London in the 1950’s, is based on the short life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. She was found guilty of the cold-blooded killing of her unfaithful lover, a womanising racing driver called David with whom she had become obsessed.
The play is not concerned with the trial. It is really about how Ruth’s friends, long before the murder charge, had fought hard to protect her from herself. Ruth always said one thing but did another. This contradiction exasperated her friends but they stayed loyal to the end. There appeared to be no safety for a woman so determined to destroy herself. Why did she plead guilty, but offer no defence? Why did she show no remorse? “It’s obvious when I shot him, I intended to kill him”, she is reported to have told the prosecuting QC. The play portrays what is essentially a lost cause but one on which her friends refused to give up. It is a modern play, first performed in 2013. There is warmth to the exchanges: real people working their way through life. We, the audience, want Ruth’s friends to succeed: we know they won’t, but there is humanity in the struggle.
The play is set in a Mayfair nightclub in the 1950’s. It will look and sound like a black and white film of those times. Therefore, the set and the costumes will be in various shades of black and white. The exception is Ruth, who, seeing herself as a ‘one-off’, dressed as a blonde bombshell at all times. She is a blaze of colour in a drab world; a woman totally absorbed in living a self-generated fantasy. A tightly-written, fast-paced play which engages and involves in equal measure.