The Road to Huntsville, Warwick Arts Centre Studio, March 6 &7.
Why do women form relationships with men - sometimes even marry - who are awaiting the death penalty?
Writer and actress Stephanie Ridings, from Kenilworth, addresses this question after extensive research which has taken her to Huntsville in Texas, the most frequently used execution chamber in the United States.
Her one-woman play is based on her experiences and is a highly imaginative combination of the factual and the fictional.
She effectively engages with her audience with an easy, conversational style laced with humour and thought-provoking statements.
She makes use of visuals including actual footage from outside the prison as well as photographs and copies of letters, texts and websites such as writeaprisoner.com.
Even though I acknowledge the devastating effect that serious crimes can have on victims and their families I have always been totally opposed to the death penalty and any form of state homicide. This play did not alter my beliefs. However it did make me look at the question from a totally different perspective.
When asked why women want to get involved with convicted rapists, murderers and paedophiles, many would assume this is just some form of macabre curiosity from those who seek a little excitement and relief from a humdrum existence.
The audience discovers that such women come from a wide range of backgrounds and that their reasons are varied and complex with one even claiming that ‘no woman has ever received a love letter until they’ve had one from someone in prison’.
The production was particularly moving when the audience are shown the prison conditions, with visitors only allowed to talk to an inmate via a phone through bullet proof glass. Those moments just before and after execution are also sensitively shared with us.
All in all a well written and excellently performed piece of theatre.