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Criterion Theatre
The Thrill Of Love (2014)
Written by Amanda Whittington
Sat 10th May to Sat 17th May
Director – Doreen Belton
Your Memories
John Fenner remembers ...
A joy working with this cast and director, with memories of visiting the "scene of crime" (The Magdala at Hampstead).
Production Photos
Ruth Ellis – Lucy Hayton
Jack Gale – John Fenner
Doris Judd – Karen Brooks
Sylvia Shaw – Deb Relton-Elves
Vicki Martin – Nicol Cortese
Set Design – Pete Bagley
Stage Manager – Pete Kendall
Assistant Director – Harry Leonard
Set Build – Dave Holmes
Set Build – Simon Sharpe
Set Build – Kevin Woods
Set Build – Lukasz Nowacki
Set Build – Terry Rahilly
Set Build – Mike Tooley
Set Paint – Judy Talbot
Set Paint – Pam Coleman
Set Paint – Doreen Belton
Props – Les Rahilly
Props – Nikki Gabriel
Props – Fran Kendall
Props – Steph Stradling
Props – George Rippon
Props – Alex Martis
Wardrobe – Pam Coleman
Wardrobe – Maureen Liggins
Lighting Designer – Karl Stafford
Sound Designer – Dave Cornish
Sound Designer – Clair Henrywood
Prompt – Jonathan Rees
The Programme

A gripping drama about Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain.
A divorcee with a young child to care for, Ruth works in the kind of nightclubs where there is more than just a drink on offer. Ruth and the girls work hard, play hard and dream of a movie-star life. Then she meets the wealthy, womanising David, a racing driver with whom she becomes obsessed. Fame comes - but not in the way she imagines.
Why does their relationship end in murder? Why does she plead not guilty but offer no defence? Why does she show no remorse? And who is she trying to protect?

The crime of passion that oozes 1950s atmosphere.  

The Thrill of Love, Criterion Theatre, Coventry, until May 17.  Running time 2 hours.

The true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, is brought to the stage of the Criterion Theatre by a hugely talented cast of five, who together recreate the sleazy world of clubland in 1955.
In France this crime of passion would never have resulted in the death penalty.
And in the UK worse crimes had been committed without resorting to the hangman's Ruth's case her executioner was the legendary Albert Pierrepoint who went on to describe her as:  "the bravest woman I ever hanged."
Real life Ruth was a mother who had bit part in a 1951 film, Lady Godiva Rides Again. She knew Stephen Ward, the society osteopath soon to be implicated in the Profumo affair and her hostess work brought her into contact with the glamorous racing driver set, including her lover, David Blakely
Lucy Hayton plays peroxided Ruth with a clenched, edgy brittleness that still shows us the vulnerability beneath. Her character contrasts well with the bounce and confidence of new hostess Vicki, not yet in possession of all the answers, but less used, and of an altogether tougher disposition.
You feel Vicki would not have fallen hopelessly into a destructive love affair....but Ruth couldn't help herself.
I liked the world-weary poise of Sylvia, played by Deb Relton-Elves as the woman who did have all the answers, matched by the compassion of club cleaner Doris (Karen Brooks).
As the lone male, John Fenner sets the atmosphere as he narrates the story from the police's point of view, probing Ruth for the truth while suggesting that she could have given herself a better case to put before the jury.
A tight, thought-provoking play, beautifully controlled by director Doreen Belton who is ably assisted by some terrific period clothes and hairstyles.            
Rating:  9.

Barbara Goulden
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