Superb! The Thrill of Love.
The Thrill of Love, Rugby Theatre, 4 - 11 March 2023.
Review by Ann Evans
The entire team behind The Thrill of Love at Rugby Theatre should be congratulated. Of course, for the superb acting of the five strong cast, but also for the casting of these actors into their roles – they each seemed made for the part especially Emma Marshall who plays nightclub hostess Ruth Ellis, the woman who sadly and tragically went down in history as being the last woman to be hanged in Britain.
The congratulations extend to the other four actors, Detective Inspector Jack Gale (Keith Norfolk) who really wanted desperately to find some way of helping Ruth Ellis to escape the gallows. Sylvia Shaw (Melanie Lee), the tough ‘seen-it-all’ nightclub manageress who deep down had a heart of gold. The flighty model and actress – and friend of Ruth, Vickie Martin (Kezia Hine); and Doris Judd, the charwoman at the nightclub, played by Charlie Lewis.
A small cast but the people behind the scenes should also be congratulated for their input, from the creation of the atmosphere on stage, whether we were in the nightclub or in Ruth’s flat or walking back from the cemetery. The lighting, the drifts of smoke, a flurry of snowflakes, the Detective pouring through his notes to make sense of what had happened between Ruth and her lover, David Blakely; but right through to those who set up the display in the theatre’s foyer. That in itself was genius.
This heart wrenching play was written by Amanda Whittington and directed by Wendy Kay – her debut show as a RT Director, and what an incredible job she did in directing this production. The mood, the drama, the acting, every moment holding audience captive with just the right balance of emotion coming through.
Like most people, I’d heard about Ruth Ellis as the last woman to be hanged in Britain, but to actually get to see this tragic young woman and understand something of her life and loves – and how she was treated by the men in her life, made me glad to now know a little more about her.
It’s a tragic story yet there was nothing depressing about this production. It reveals friendships and caring and passion. There are cleverly interwoven humorous lines, haunting music from Billie Holiday, and fashions that take you back to the glamorous side of the 1950s.
Well done to everyone involved, and especially Emma Marshall for her portrayal of Ruth Ellis – incredible acting and stage presence. She handled the heart wrenching scenes with such dignity and style. Well done everyone involved in this production, you should all be very proud of yourselves.