Review by Peter McGarry

Peter McGarry is an experienced, independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.

The Thrill of Love (2015):
Many dramatists have attempted to explore the mind and mentality of a person driven to commit murder. Few achieve the depth of insight of this powerful work.

Focusing on Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged under English law, the play focuses on the impact of a seedy social environment on the essential inner honesty of a woman who never denied her crime but constantly refused to acknowledge any sense of guilt over her actions.

The result in theatre terms is a demanding dream of a role for an actress - one to which Ruth Herd responds with a terrific performance. This is no basic thriller probing the whys and wherefores of capital punishment, which was subsequently banned. Writer Amanda Whittington is more concerned with the trials of the human psyche.

The challenge is to equate the passionate and compulsive nature of the central protagonist with her intriguing foibles - the vanity of the 'peroxide blonde' and her essentially likeable qualities of disarming self-appraisal and determined regard for the niceties of proper spoken grammar.

Ruth Herd captures these variations with a strong sense of commitment and her work is enhanced in later scenes by superb chemistry with Julie-Ann Randell's simplistic but tenderly supportive admirer and friend Doris.

Director Phil Quinn strives for effective visual and sound effects but the intended film-noir factor does not work, simply because it lacks essential boldness in delivery and suffers a few elongated pauses. Other characters need to be more forceful - the tough female manager of the gentlemen-only club which is so much a part of Ellis's milieu, and the detective seeking the truth behind the crime.

Attention is needed to the first act in which everything moves at a rambling half-speed. Despite the somewhat sordid nature of their world, there should be a feeling of vitality and optimism, however fanciful. The pace notably steps up in the second half.

The play's main aim, however, is realised - and this is no small accomplishment by all concerned and, in particular, the stunning central portrayal.



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