The Thrill of Love

Farnworth Little Theatre

Runs Until Saturday

Tickets available from 0845 643 0808

Amanda Whittington has created a masterpiece with the Thrill of Love. Based on the life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to face death by hanging in 1955, this adaptation of Ellis’s story is gripping throughout and leaves you wondering what her next move will be.

In true Farnworth Little Theatre style, director Dave Eyre has made short work of ensuring this piece was brought to life by engaging a talented cast who worked so well together. All five actors were fully immersed in their characters resulting in all round stand out performances.

Detective John Gale, played astutely by John O’Connell offers narration interspersed with dialogue that is delivered with clarity and preciseness that ensures you hear every word. O’Connell knows his craft and this shines through. Nathalie Haley provides a subtle interpretation of Vicky Martin, the nightclub worker come actress who makes good. Haley provided a good accent throughout and played the part with the right amount of pathos.

As the hostess/manager, Jaqui Brian provides a feisty Sylvia Shaw. Not one to be crossed, Sylvia is formidable and Brian get this across at every turn, ensuring her sharp tongued delivery hits you right between the eyes. The hired help, Doris Judd is treated pretty badly by her employer, Mrs Shaw, but she does not take it all lying down. Esme Mather amuses with her no nonsense approach and switches between being char women and agony aunt/counsellor really well.

Providing the glue that holds all this together, Natalie Crompton is stunning as Ruth Ellis. From the peroxide blonde hair, to the distinctive spectacles, Crompton offers a tour de force as she breezes though the turbulent life of Ellis since shooting her lover for his infidelity. This was a structured performance that let us in when we needed to be let in and kept us at bay when she didn’t want us to get into her thoughts. The miscarriage scene was well played as was the final scene leading to the execution. Deep, measured and truly well researched, this tangible interpretation allowed us to be almost side by side with Ellis as her life was played out.

A simple but effective set, which was played in the round worked well and was complimented by slick scene changes. Lighting by Phil Brookes was atmospheric and created the right ambience for the many scenarios that this play offers.

Congratulations to Dave Eyre and his cast and crew for an excellent night’s entertainment.

Paul Cohen