The Thrill of Love
Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich
Review for the Eastern Daily Press, 1st October 2015, not yet published
There’s something about sitting almost with the performers, as the audience does at the Sewell Barn, that makes everything so intimate, so absorbing.
This play packs a punch exploring the tragedy that was the life and death of Ruth Ellis. Notorious as the last woman in England to be hanged, she is superbly portrayed by Abbie Eastwood – the frail, petite platinum blonde who dreamed of Hollywood but got Holloway.
The abuse she suffered and the dying of her dreams in the reality of life in seedy nightclubs was the backstory while the police inspector-cum-narrator (James Thomson) grappled to understand the woman who shot her lover.
Her speedy confession, explanation of all the facts except how she got the gun and her rejection of a final appeal comes over with shocking clarity. Director Ginny Porteous brings out her vulnerability amidst the wheels of criminal justice which contributed significantly to the abolition of the death penalty.
Friends who care (Jen Dewsbury, Hayley Evenett and Verity Roat) catch the 1950s period with its values and struggles to support the telling of this poignant, memorable true story.