By Amanda Whittington
Dir: Garry Thomas
Season: 8 - 17 June 2017
In July 1955, a blonde bombshell, Ruth Ellis, was the last woman was hanged in Britain. She was 28. As a working class night-club hostess in a club where there was more than drink on offer, Ruth Ellis had dreams about her future. She also had two children. Her passionate and tragic affair with an upper-class racing driver, David Blakely, ended in murder.
1955 was also the year when Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister, when Stirling Moss won the Grand Prix, when Princess Margaret broke off her engagement to Captain Peter Townsend, and when the aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal was completed. In short, Great Britain was in transition, struggling to find a new identity and to reconcile the old with the new.
The class system however, was still very evident, and it was a time of rampant sexism. Domestic violence and sexual exploitation had, as Amanda Whittington herself says “barely been named”. There was little recognition of mental health issues. Although the play tells a story, it also explores society’s perception of women, and how this affects the justice meted out to them.
This play was originally performed at the New Vic in 2013. Amanda Whittington is the author of a number of plays, including Ladies Day, Tipping the Velvet, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Be My Baby and Amateur Girl. It requires strong ensemble playing. The film, Dance with a Stranger also tells the same story, but from a different perspective.
Ruth Ellis -Samantha Raines
Vicky Martin - Libby Wilson
Sylvia Shaw - Louisa Stewart
Doris Judd - Nikki Bleyendaal
Inspector Jack Gale - Julian Anderson