Ten days until Middlesex University is a-buzzing with poetry, authors, and would-be writers for the North London Literary Festival 2013. It is also 10 days until the acclaimed play ‘The Thrill of Love’ comes to London, at the St James Theatre.
Commemorating the sensational story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged for murder in Britain. Ellis’ story was a challenging one during the austerity years post-World War II. Coming from a humble background, the divorcee with a young child to support found herself amidst the hostessing scene in North London, after a brief stint as a nude model. Hostessing was just a posh cover-word for prostitution within a brothel establishment that catered for more “renowned gentlemen”. She found herself meeting celebrities, lavished upon by admirers and also in abusive relationships. Until Easter Sunday 1955.
On a dark April night, around 10pm, Ellis travelled from Oxford Street to Hampstead, in North London, waiting outside the impressive four-storey public house The Magdala. To shoot one of her abusive lovers, David Blakely not once but 5 times.
However this theatrical re-imagining of the facts by Amanda Whittington the playwright retells the story from the female perspective. Defending Ruth Ellis’ actions, Whittington and the director James Dacre suggest how misunderstanding the public was in 1950s Britain. A 2003 appeal by Ellis’ family to overturn the verdict and reclaim the image of the murderous blonde bombshell were quashed by the Court of Appeal. Citing Ellis’ strange frame of mind and extraordinary hardships, despite not gaining the lawful platform that they expected, one hopes that this theatrical stage is no less a feat for the historically amazing woman that was Ruth Ellis.
The Thrill of Love runs from 27th March 2013 – 2nd April 2013.
St James Theatre.
**** – The Guardian.
‘An astonishing play’ – British Theatre Guide.