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The Thrill of Love - Ruth Ellis

The Thrill of Love, Rugby Theatre from 4 – 11 March

Preview by Rosie Fuller

This thrilling drama challenges perceptions of ‘femme fatale’ killer, Ruth Ellis – a true story of the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

In 1955, self-styled ‘blonde bombshell’ Ruth Ellis was convicted of killing her unfaithful lover. The Thrill of Love takes a fresh look at the woman behind the sensationalist headlines of the time.

“I first came across The Thrill of Love in 2019, and was totally transfixed by the honest, gritty storytelling of Ruth Ellis’s complex life,” says the show’s director Wendy Kay. “Challenging the provocative nature of newspaper reporting, The Thrill of Love seeks to give a more rounded portrait of a complex woman – one treated badly by men, and potentially wronged by a justice system that handed her a heart-breaking conviction.”

Set to a haunting Billie Holiday soundtrack, The Thrill of Love explores the lives and relationships of the glamourous, sassy and smart women who sought an escape from post-war poverty in the perceived glitz of the London club scene. Led by detective inspector Jack Gale, in film noir style, the play delves into the extraordinary events before and after the notorious murder.

“The Thrill of Love is not a whodunnit, but instead focuses on what drove Ruth to murder the wealthy racing driver David Blakely,” continues Wendy. “Why does she plead ‘not guilty’ but offer no defence? Why does she show no remorse? And who is she trying to protect?”

Coinciding with International Women’s Day 2023 (8 March), the play has strong central female characters, and highlights their bonds, friendships and emotional support for each other in a sleazy nightclub world dominated by powerful men.

“Ruth’s conviction was a shocking decision that eventually led to the abolition of a barbaric law,” says Wendy. “And the return of the debate about the death penalty recently shows how important it still is to tell such a relevant story.”

The Thrill of Love runs from 4-11 March, with a discounted performance for International Women’s Day 2023 on Wednesday 8 March. Tickets are available from the Rugby Theatre box office on 01788 541234, or


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