Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain in 1955 after being convicted of shooting her lover, David Blakely, in cold blood. The Thrill of Love dramatises this infamous true story and takes a closer look at the women behind the headlines.
A divorcee with a young child to care for, Ruth Ellis 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. She also begins seeing Desmond Cussen, a man driven mad with jealousy by her tempestuous and often violent relationship with David. Whittington’s play focuses on Ruth’s interior life, as well as her friendship with three women all working the club scene: the dependable club owner, Sylvia, aspiring actor and model, Vickie and charwoman, Doris. These friends provide comfort to her as she battles abusive lovers and a rabid press. Meanwhile, Detective Jack Gale follows her story from the beginning, hoping to piece together the motive behind why she murdered David and, more importantly, whom she might be protecting.
The Thrill of Love was first performed at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2013 before transferring at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and the St James Theatre in London.