The Thrill of Love for St Albans' Company of Ten

PUBLISHED: 10:45 04 October 2014

The Thrill of Love, Company of Ten

The Thrill of Love, Company of Ten

Archant

Love and hate, life and death intermingle in The Thrill of Love, an upcoming production by The Company of Ten.

Many people say they would die for love although few actually do, but The Thrill of Love focuses on someone who really did: Ruth Ellis, the last woman in Britain to be hanged.

Written by acclaimed playwright Amanda Whittington, it tells the heartbreaking true story of Ellis, a 28-year-old single mother and night club hostess, who on April 11, 1955 shot and killed her lover outside a Hampstead pub. Rather than focusing on the grisly details of the crime or her subsequent execution, the play explores what drove her to do it: a lifetime of domestic violence, disappointment and obsession with romantic love.

Although based on true events, the play skilfully weaves known facts with imagined scenarios, says director Philip Reardon. “Whittington has beautifully crafted both real characters – Ruth Ellis and her best friend Vickie Martin – and fictional characters, such as night club manager Sylvia Shaw, charwoman Doris Judd and Detective Inspector Jack Gale, in an attempt to show the influences that shaped this young woman’s life and led her to commit murder.

“But although Ruth’s story is ultimately a tragic one, her early days working as a hostess in London’s night clubs were full of high hopes and witty banter, and there is a surprising amount of humour in this play to lighten the dark.”

The play’s soundtrack of songs by the iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday helps to shed light on Ellis’s state of mind, adds Philip: “There are startling comparisons to be drawn between the lives of Ellis and Holiday, and the lyrics to songs such as Ain’t Nobody’s Business, My Man and Love For Sale – which is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute – are peculiarly apt.”

Performances take place in the Abbey Theatre Studio from October 10-11 at 8pm; on October 12 at 2.30pm; and from October 14-18 at 8pm. To book tickets go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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