By Amanda Whittington,
Directed by Jon Brown
Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain in July 1955; convicted of the cold-blooded killing of her unfaithful lover. This gripping new play by the author of the hugely popular Be My Baby takes a new look at the real woman behind the headlines and at the events that drive her to murder.
A divorcee with a young child to care for, Ruth works in the kind of nightclubs where there’s more than just a drink on offer.
The girls work hard, play hard and dream of a movie-star life. Then she meets the wealthy, womanising David, a racing driver with whom she becomes obsessed. Fame comes but not in the way she imagines.
Why does their relationship end in murder? Why does she plead not guilty but offer no defence? Why does she show no remorse? And just who is she trying to protect?
None of the men in Ruth’s life are actually present in the play – it is instead the close relationships between Ellis and the other women at the clubs that help reveal a behind-the- scenes look at how her life unravelled, from confessions of her shattered hopes at becoming an actress to her late-night finishes, high on drugs and alcohol and covered in bruises.
A fictional Inspector Jack Gale narrates the play with interspersed guest appearances, lending a gentle, fatherly voice to a case, he believes, deserves more investigation than an otherwise straight-forward confession.
The play is set in a dark 1950s smoky cabaret-like club atmosphere, complete with classic Billie Holiday tunes.
The play casts a net over Ruth’s hard life and the mysterious case. It’s not an investigative thriller; but more an honest look at one woman’s view that there was no other choice but to kill, and in turn, be killed. It asks lots of questions with many going unanswered, and some that will never be completely solved.
Finally, Ruth’s controversial case heightened the momentum to end executions in Britain, making it a law ten years later.
I am really looking forward to bringing this fascinating, intriguing and atmospheric piece of theatre to the QMT stage, and I am hoping to see lots of men and women at the auditions!
Ages are indicative. Please remember that women in the 1950s dressed, and often appeared, older than today’s generation. All characters need to portray steeliness as well as a vulnerability.
- Jack Gale
- A Detective Inspector. A substantial, pivotal role. Part narrator, part player, he must connect with audience and characters on stage alike. Late 30s – 50s.
- Ruth Ellis
- A model and night club hostess in London. A mother and a survivor. Driven towards the bright lights and glamour, she shunned the social stereotype expected. Strong, brave, passionate and exploited. Contrary to popular belief, she was well spoken. She was 28 at the time of her death. Mid 20s to mid 30s.
- Sylvia Shaw
- Manageress of the Court Club. Down-to-earth yet sophisticated Londoner. Late 30s – 50s.
- Vickie Martin
- A night club hostess in her twenties. Energetic, playful and determined to succeed. A strange mix of worldliness and naivety. Mid 20s to mid 30s.
- Doris Judd
- The char/cleaner at the Court Club. Compassionate, sincere, unworldly yet astute. A Londoner aged 20s – 30s.
Notes About the Auditions
Scripts available soon from Box Office.
Rehearsals Tues & Thurs, some Sundays later on.
Ages indicative, I will be very flexible so don’t worry if you don’t fit.
Jon Brown on 07768 494039 or