Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain in 1955 at the age of 28. Amanda Whittington’s story gives the audience a glimpse into Ellis’s life leading up to her being convicted of killing her lover David Blakely and the injustices surrounding her trial and execution. As the Director Sue Stephenson states in her notes in the programme, there would have been a very different outcome had the crime had been committed today.
Being involved in my own production of this play at the moment, I was interested in seeing how another Society would tackle the complexities surrounding the technical content as well as ensuring the fluidity of the action, which the author specifically specifies. I need not have worried, as the action flowed seamlessly from scene to scene with the help of the very talented cast.
There was a great atmosphere pre-show from the music of Billie Holiday which led the audience directly into the action of the play. The setting of the stage worked well and the actors used the space available to great effect. There were very few static moments which made the action engaging to watch throughout.
Technically, I was extremely impressed with the complex sound effects used, which added great atmosphere to the play. The lighting perhaps could have been a little more atmospheric at times but this did not detract from the overall success of the production.
Under the guidance of Sue Stephenson, the audience were treated to excellent performances from all 5 actors; Rachael Mayor (Ruth Ellis), Phil Clegg (Jack Gale), Sylvia Shaw (Alison Bowers), Ruth Wilde (Vickie Martin) and Emma Sykes (Doris Judd). The characterisation was first class as the actors journeyed their way through the play offering the audience pathos, drama and some humour along the way.
Congratulations to all involved. Hope you continue to have a successful and enjoyable run.
See Saddleworth Players perform The Thrill of Love at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph, until Saturday 6 April. Tickets from our booking site.