The Thrill of Love at Shaftesbury

SHAFTESBURY Art Centre music and drama group’s spring show is The Thrill of Love, the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. It is on at the Bell Street theatre from Wednesday 10th to Saturday 13th April at 7.30pm.

Ruth Ellis is no fictional character. She was flesh-and-blood and her story is true. In the nearly 70 years since her death, she has become a symbol of criminal injustice.

But in Amanda Whittington’s powerful drama she is neither victim, villain nor heroine. Rather, the play seeks to understand more about a complex, enigmatic young woman and the life she lived in the nightclubs and bars of post-war London. Ruth Ellis was hanged in 1955 after being convicted of shooting her lover, David Blakely, in cold blood. ‘

The cast is all-female, apart from the police officer, DI Jack Gale (played by Dave Cromwell). Blakely is an off-stage character and the story focuses on Ruth (Helen Kunze) and her fellow hostesses. They would have known her better than anyone yet they are all but silent in the official records. By finding their voice, we may hear Ruth’s too.

Exactly what drove her out with a gun on Easter Sunday 1955 can never fully be known but, like DI Gale, there is still much that we can learn by understanding more about her life and times.

The Thrill of Love is not suitable for under 14s. For tickets and more information, visit or call the box office on 01747 854321.

Pictured: Helen Kunze as Ruth Ellis and Dave Cromwell as DI Gale.

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